[Coral-List] HotSpots and WarmSpots

Jim Hendee Jim.Hendee at noaa.gov
Thu Sep 28 09:40:21 EDT 2006

Hi, Tom,

    I think quite often it's the media who are misinterpreting or
misrepresenting the message that is sent out by NESDIS.  Mark Eakin's
recent messages via Coral-List (see the archives at
clearly have said that this year things are cooler in the Caribbean than
last year.  I have also seen (and been victim of) misquotes from the
media!  "Same 'ol same ol'" doesn't sell newspapers!  Also, the NESDIS
HotSpot tools do not claim to be the same concept you originally
envisioned, thus there is no need for them to follow your original idea
of one straight month.  They have just continued on with the concept
since the paper you wrote ten years ago, so of course they're going to
improve.  And besides, it's all so physiologically complex anyway--with
light, CDOM and winds all possibly playing a part, depending upon the
location--that the tool should only be considered just what they have
always claimed--that this is a management decision tool only. 
Apparently their track record is pretty good, though I have not seen a
definitive history of hits/misses.


Thomas Goreau wrote:
> To all serious coral bleaching researchers,
> A very serious misconception continues to plague the interpretation  
> of Coral Bleaching HotSpots, which I am forced to clarify because I  
> invented the term.
> The HotSpot concept was developed through a combination of field  
> observations, in-situ measurements, and analysis of regional and  
> global satellite SST data in Goreau (1990), Goreau, Hayes, Clark,  
> Basta, & Robertson (1993), Goreau & Hayes (1994), Goreau, Hayes, &  
> Strong (1996), Goreau & Hayes (2005a,b,c).
> The concept has been widely misused by those who do not cite the  
> original literature. A HotSpot is defined as an area where the  
> monthly average temperature is 1 degree C above the historical  
> baseline average for the warmest month of the year. It is not the  
> same as a short term 1 C anomaly, it must remain for a month to be a  
> HotSpot. A HotSpot is a time integrated anomaly over a one month  
> period, NOT an instantaneous short term fluctuation. We do not issue  
> bleaching alerts until AFTER ONE STRAIGHT MONTH OF EXCESSIVE  
> TEMPERATURES. If the anomaly duration is less than that it is a  
> WarmSpot, not a HotSpot.
> The NOAA HotSpot site, based on our work, does not explain the  
> difference, or cite the original literature, and lately misleading  
> bleaching alerts have been issued based on WarmSpots (see message  
> below). These are jumping the gun, causing much confusion, and much  
> more care is needed in following the original prescription. The  
> problem is serious enough that we should not be crying wolf  
> prematurely and damaging the credibility of the method, which when  
> correctly used, has correctly predicted all major bleaching events  
> since 1982.
> Best wishes,
> Tom
> Thomas J. Goreau, PhD
> President
> Global Coral Reef Alliance
> 37 Pleasant Street, Cambridge MA 02139
> 617-864-4226
> goreau at bestweb.net
> http://www.globalcoral.org
> Date: Tue, 26 Sep 2006 13:45:14 -0400
> From: Mark Eakin <Mark.Eakin at noaa.gov>
> Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Areas of Potential Bleaching in Caribbean
> To: Coral Listserver <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
> Message-ID: <274DF87D-DF85-4861-BB2A-2535A9069B2C at noaa.gov>
> Content-Type: text/plain;	charset=US-ASCII;	delsp=yes;	format=flowed
> Warming continues in the area around the northern Lesser Antilles.
> While it looks like the Florida Keys has probably dodged the bullet
> this year, there is a strong potential for low-level bleaching in the
> northeastern Caribbean this year.  We have begun to accumulate Degree
> Heating Weeks in most of this region.  The good news is that we have
> only now reached the level of temperature stress that we had reached
> by early August in 2005.  That means that it is highly unlikely that
> we will accumulate substantial thermal stress before temperatures
> begin to cool.
> Cheers,
> Mark
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