[Coral-List] Clarifications re: Allen Coral Atlas

Helen Fox hfox at hawaii.edu
Tue Dec 15 14:59:45 UTC 2020

Dear Coral-List,

We wanted to response to the comments from Doug Fenner and Vassil Zlatarski on
12 Dec 2020 re: errors in the Allen Coral Atlas (in the thread "Source for
"coral occupy <1% of the seafloor but house more than 25% of species"):

- The Atlas maps (depth, geomorphic and benthic composition) will have
errors in them - we are very up front about this on our page that explains
how we make the maps and that errors are likely to result
https://allencoralatlas.org/methods/, and in the FAQ’s “What do I do if I
find an error or problem in the map?” https://allencoralatlas.org/faq/.

- Using satellite image data for reef mapping has limitations; we are very
open with what they are (see “USER Guide Part 1
at the bottom of the Field Engagement section of
https://allencoralatlas.org/methods/; this also explains why we expect
errors and where to send corrections (corrections at allencoralatlas.org),
since we cannot know where the errors will occur and cannot check them all.
It is always a trade-off to map and monitor millions of km2 of any
environment, so the more we link with field data and knowledge the more we
improve the process!

- Feedback is an important part of improving the process and we’re grateful
to everyone that has helped provide feedback on the maps to our team.
Ideally we can fix systemic errors by improving the semi-automated mapping
approach, but in other cases we can’t, due to the constraints of this
approach (for example, we cannot map turbid areas). We appreciate all forms
of feedback, but we cannot, and have never, guaranteed that any specific,
localized errors can be corrected.

Our feedback request has been on the website since we launched it, and this
is what you can provide that will help us:

· Reef name(s) or location, either:

 · coordinates and/or a georeferenced polygon (in kml, shapefile, or JSON

 · screen shots from the Atlas of relevant area (annotated with details)

 · copy Atlas URL of zoomed in location (this will enable us to see the
area you are talking about)

· Explanation of the error and your suggestion for correcting it/them

· Send us any relevant field data

· Your contact details

The Allen Coral Atlas is a large international collaborative effort
building on decades of reef mapping knowledge from this community. It only
works based on contributions from many reef ecology, management and
community groups around the world working with the mapping and engagement
teams. We’re really grateful to everyone on this list who has volunteered
their time, expertise and datasets to help improve our maps. Our products
will continue to evolve and improve as we refine it over time and improve
based on where people find errors.

We will continue to do our very best to provide a state-of-the-art resource
to support research and conservation by the coral reef community,
especially in places where no previous maps exist. Local manually-created
reef maps of well-studied areas will often be more reliable and accurate
than the Atlas, but many coral reef regions lack detailed or accessible
spatial data; the Atlas seeks to fill these gaps, and provide
globally-consistent products.

Many thanks to everybody in the coral reef community (Coral-List and other
fora) who have acted constructively and supportively to help us build and
share this resource.


Helen & the Allen Coral Atlas team

Helen E Fox, PhD Allen Coral Atlas, Field Engagement Advisor (hfox at ngs.org)

Conservation Science Director, Coral Reef Alliance (hfox at coral.org)

> ------------------------------
> Date: Sat, 12 Dec 2020 17:27:24 -0500
> From: Vassil Zlatarski <vzlatarski at gmail.com>
> To: Douglas Fenner <douglasfenner at yahoo.com>, Judith Lang
>         <jlang at riposi.net>,  Denis Allemand <
> allemand at centrescientifique.mc>,
>         Hanny Rivera <hrivera28 at gmail.com>, Anna M Weiss
>         <anna.weiss at utexas.edu>, Sarah Frias-Torres
>         <sfrias_torres at hotmail.com>,  Coral-List Subscribers
>         <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
> Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Source for "coral occupy <1% of the seafloor
>         but house more than 25% of species"
> Message-ID:
>         <
> CAA9Piv3e-qmEtmuPTQ1b9LKCKYVfq_iic45PQnVDHqxkx02+Ww at mail.gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="UTF-8"
> Dear All,
> Yes, it turned out there are serious concerns about the reliability of the
> Allen Coral Atlas.
> In the Allen atlas there are blatant inaccuracies.  For example, in Golfo
> de Guacanayabo, SE Cuba, an entyre coral reef system is missing.  This is
> inexplicable because it is a case of reticulate coral reef system well
> documented by satellite image two decades ago in "World Atlas of Coral
> Reefs".  Even more unexplainable is the appearance of coral reefs where
> they do not exist.
> Furthermore, the provided bibliography and information to fix this
> wrongdoing offered to the promoter of the Allen Coral Atlas in this forum
> were accepted with promises, however did not bring any change.
> Cheers,
> Vassil
> Vassil Zlatarski
> D.Sc. (Biology), Ph.D. (Geology)
> On Sat, Dec 12, 2020 at 1:31 PM Douglas Fenner via Coral-List <
> coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> wrote:
> > The Allen Atlas had huge errors for American Samoa.  Showed coral in 200
> > feet of water in the harbor where visibility is usually 10-20 feet,
> showed
> > a muddy area to be rock, missed the largest patch of mangroves.  Their
> > solution has been to ignore it, or hand change the areas that were wrong.
> > And deny that their software was making lots of mistakes.  I have to
> > presume all their results are unreliable until demonstrated otherwise.
> > Technology people think their techno stuff is infallible.  Apparently
> > bamboozling the big donor into believing they are doing wonders is more
> > important that actually getting things right.   Cheers, Doug
> >
> > On Fri, Dec 11, 2020 at 3:01 AM Judith Lang <jlang at riposi.net> wrote:
> >
> > > Thank you very much Hanny for this ?interim update.?
> > >
> > > Have to add that it will be difficult to calculate the surface of the
> > > world?s reef more accurately with the classification approach currently
> > > employed by the Allen Atlas team if our limited experience last winter
> (I
> > > think it was) with the Jamaican draft prior to its release is any
> guide.
> > >
> > > Judy Lang
> > > AGRRA Scientific Coordinator
> > >
> > > On 11 Dec 2020, at 08:40, Denis Allemand <
> allemand at centrescientifique.mc
> > >
> > > wrote:
> > >
> > > Dear Hanny
> > >
> > > Many thanks for this update. It would be interesting to refine the
> > surface
> > > of the world's reefs using more modern techniques?
> > > Best regards
> > > Denis
> > >
> > > Professeur Denis Allemand
> > > Directeur Scientifique / Scientific Director
> > > Centre Scientifique de Monaco
> > > 8 Quai Antoine Ier
> > > MC 98000 Monaco
> > > Principaut? de Monaco
> > >
> > > T?l. : +377 97 77 44 50
> > > Standard : +377 97 77 44 00
> > > allemand at centrescientifique.mc
> > > www.centrescientifique.mc
> > >
> > > **********************

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