Reef Matters Seminar Series: Dr Chris Roelfsema

Advancing our capabilities to map and monitor coral reefs – global information with local detail


We outline a new global coral reef mapping effort that combines detailed ecological information and knowledge with global scale satellite image data sets. This talk will demonstrate how the detailed spatial information supports coral reef research using examples for the Great Barrier Reef. The resulting maps provide information on reef geomorphic zonation and benthic cover types in a globally consistent approach, driven by local scale information. These products are intended to be the first version of a data set that is updated continually based on input from reef science and management communities globally. We present the approach used, which is based on a progression of applied research projects in the Great Barrier Reef. We  show how Geomorphic Zonation, and Benthic Cover maps were/are created combining field data, satellite imagery, reef physical attributes (depth, slope, wave climate), and spatial modelling algorithms. Examples will be shown on how improved understanding of the geomorphic and benthic composition of individual reefs to support development, validation and refinement of water quality models, reef restoration plans, connectivity modelling and marine park planning.