The CORAL project: A new view of coral reefs • Earth.com

The CORAL project: A new view of coral reefs

12-25-2016

The CORAL project: A new view of coral reefs Coral reefs cover less than 2% of the Earth, yet more than 25% of all ocean species depend on coral reefs for food or shelter. NASA’s CORAL project uses advanced optical instrumentation to study more of the world’s coral reefs than has ever been undertaken.

A three-year NASA field expedition to examine Earth’s coral reefs is now underway, giving scientists the opportunity to study reefs ecology and condition. Enter NASA: A new three-year NASA field expedition to examine Earth’s coral reefs is now underway. The CORAL project—short for the “COral Reef Airborne Laboratory,” uses advanced optical instrumentation to survey the condition of more of the world’s coral reefs than has ever been undertaken.

And complex compounds found in coral reefs hold promises in modern medicine. These are what we call ecosystem services that would be very difficult and expensive to replace. Corals are found across the world’s ocean, in both shallow and deep water, but reef-building corals are only found in shallow tropical and subtropical waters. This is because the algae found in their tissues need light for photosynthesis and they prefer water temperatures between 70-85°F.

Also corals unique skeletal structure has been used to make the most advanced forms of bone grafting materials. Global coral reef habitat maps now complete. This year, the Allen Coral Atlas met a major milestone by completing global habitat maps of the world’s tropical, shallow coral reefs.

Credit: NASA

News coming your way
The biggest news about our planet delivered to you each day