[Coral-List] Requesting Data on 2005 Caribbean Bleaching

Mark Eakin Mark.Eakin at noaa.gov
Tue Dec 6 12:10:10 EST 2005

Many of you have seen either previous e-mails or have been cross- 
listed on this one. I apologize for cross-listing, but we need to get  
information out as widely as possible.

As you know, high ocean temperatures in 2005 have resulted in a major  
coral bleaching event that is underway in the Caribbean, and may  
result in significant coral death in much of the region.  Thermal  
stress has reached Degree Heating Week (DHWs) values of over 15 at  
some locations.  Bleaching reports have been coming in from much of  
the Caribbean and western North Atlantic. The US Coral Reef Task  
Force (USCRTF) passed a resolution in Palau calling for mobilizing  
efforts across the region to monitor and assess short- and long-term  
impacts of the 2005 Caribbean warming and bleaching event.  The  
USCRTF Bleaching Committee has held conference calls to bring  
together and solicit input from NOAA and DOI personnel, as well as  
other federal agencies, NGO partners, and local Caribbean scientists  
and managers.  The NOAA points of contact are Dr. Mark Eakin (NESDIS)  
and Dr. Tom Hourigan (NMFS).  The outcomes of the initial meetings  
include the development of a 3-phase response approach (including an  
initial response, near-term reporting and assessment, and long-term  
monitoring) and identification of key partners, resources, and  
issues.  More details about how we reached this point are found in  
documents on the website (below).

A part of the first phase is to identify and assess bleaching  
severity throughout the region.  I am collating these reports with  
the plan to produce a multi-author, quick paper to Science or Nature  
that documents the event.  From there, I am sure that more  
publications will follow.  Everyone who provides data that are used  
in the analysis of the event will be included as an author on the  
resulting paper(s).  Our intent is to provide the broad, Caribbean- 
wide analysis, comparing the thermal stress recorded from satellites  
with local observations of bleaching and temperatures.  That  
publication will only include summaries of the information that you  
submit.  We hope that all of our collaborators will produce more  
detailed national or local analyses to further document the event.

To collect the details needed for the first analysis and to establish  
a baseline for follow-up work, a spreadsheet questionnaire has been  
developed for bleaching reports.  We will be sending this to everyone  
that has submitted reports to ReefBase or Coral-List as well as  
numerous contacts throughout the region. The form, along with  
information from the US Coral Reef Task Force, NOAA meetings held to  
date, and more, are available for download at the website http:// 

Please download the questionnaire (an Excel file) and submit any data  
that you have to coralreefwatch at noaa.gov.  As you will see from the  
form, some of the information that we are requesting is not found on  
the ReefBase form.  All of your responses will be coordinated with  
ReefBase unless you indicate otherwise.  Please note that we are only  
seeking quantitative reports for this analysis.  Casual reports of  
bleaching (as well as quantitative reports) can still be submitted to  
the ReefBase-NOAA reporting site at http://www.reefbase.org/input/ 
bleachingreport/index.asp). I apologize for the informality of this  
broad e-mail, but everything is moving very quickly and we need to  
publish an assessment of the event very soon.

By the way, we are also discussing a special session on this for the  
ITMEMS-3 meeting next year.  Since it will be in Cozumel October  
2006, the location and timing would be perfect to bring us all  
together (http://www.icriforum.org/itmems3/itmems.html).

Please feel free to pass this along to appropriate colleagues.  We  
look forward to your help in assessing this event.

Thanks to all of you for your help,

C. Mark Eakin, Ph.D.
NOAA Coral Reef Watch
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Center for Satellite Applications and Research
Satellite Oceanography & Climate Division
e-mail: mark.eakin at noaa.gov
url: coralreefwatch.noaa.gov

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