ReefTemp Next Generation is a high resolution mapping product that provides information on coral bleaching risk for the Great Barrier Reef region.
High ocean temperatures are the primary cause of mass coral bleaching events. Bleaching is a stress response of corals during unfavourable conditions, whereby they expel their symbiotic phyotosynthetic algae (zooxanthellae), giving rise to the typical white colouration observed.
Bleaching has been observed on the Great Barrier Reef since 1982, with severe bleaching events occurring in the summers of 1998, 2002 and 2006. Coral mortality appears to increase with the intensity of the bleaching event, which is determined by how much and for how long temperatures remain above the maximum mean summer temperatures.
With future climate change projections indicating increased frequency and severity of mass coral bleaching events, ReefTemp Next Generation improves our ability to monitor heat stress on the Great Barrier Reef.
The new ReefTemp Next Generation system was developed by the Bureau of Meteorology for eReefs, under the National Plan for Environmental Information (NPEI) initiative. A research Version 1 (V1) system, available from 2007, was the result of a collaborative project between the Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
There are several related operational products produced by the Bureau of Meteorology that are also used in reef management, including seasonal reef outlooks for coral bleaching, ENSO wrap ups and tropical cyclone outlooks.
For further details on ReefTemp Next Generation, please refer to the following report and scientific paper:
- Garde LA, Spillman CM, Majewski L, Griffin C, Kruger G, Beggs H (2013) ReefTemp Next Generation. Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research (CAWCR) Technical Report: No 063. pp 44 (PDF).
- Garde LA, Spillman CM, Heron S, Beeden R (2014) ReefTemp Next Generation: A New Operational System for Monitoring Reef Thermal Stress, Journal of Operational Oceanography, in review.