Hawaiʻi coral maps

How do Marine Heatwaves Impact Hawai‘i’s Coral Reefs?


To understand how marine heatwaves impact Hawai‘i’s coral reefs, the ASU Global Airborne Observatory (GAO) mapped living coral before and after the 2019 marine heatwave. The first of their kind, these maps show where corals died and provide insight into how these coral reefs are adapting to climate change. Using the maps, the study also discovered potential coral refugia – habitats that may offer a safe haven for corals facing climate change.

The map starts with a zoom into Kīholo Bay on Hawai‘i Island.
Zoom out and navigate around the archipelago to see coral loss in 2019.

Human Impact on Coral Survival

The coral cover maps also show that reefs near heavily developed coasts are more susceptible to mortality during heat waves. When development occurs on land, the amount of pollution entering the reef ecosystem increases, creating an unfavorable environment for coral reefs already fighting to survive the warming water.

To learn more about becoming coral reef stewards and protecting this critical marine ecosystem, join the Ko‘a Corps.

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