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Featured Coral Projects

Below is a sampling of projects supported by NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program. To access a complete list of NOAA coral ecosystem related publications and data, use the CoRIS Geoportal (http://www.coris.noaa.gov/search/) search tool.

Coral Reef Resilience to Climate Change in the Florida Reef Tract

Climate Change and a range of human activities threaten the natural resilience of coral reef ecosystems. Reef resilience is the ability to resist and recover from disturbances while retaining essentially the same function and structure. Managers can support the natural resilience of reefs by reducing their sensitivity to climate-related disturbances, such as coral bleaching, by reducing stress on reefs caused by human activities. The challenge for natural resource managers in Florida, as with everywhere else reefs occur, lies in deciding which actions to implement and where, to best support resilience. Understanding spatial variation in resilience to Climate Change in the Florida Reef Tract was the goal of this project, with the aim being to produce information that can inform management decisions. This project is a collaboration co-funded by NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and The Nature Conservancy's Florida office. This study addresses this priority from Florida's Climate Change Action Plan - Determine and map areas of high and low resilience to Climate Change in order to prioritize management efforts.

Interdisciplinary Baseline Ecosystem Assessment Surveys to Inform Ecosystem-Based Management Planning in Timor-Leste

This project describes activities performed by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from 2012 to 2016, through a partnership agreement with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Timor-Leste Mission, to support the Government of Timor-Leste—particularly the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF). Based on consultative discussions between USAID, MAF, and NOAA, these activities provide essential baseline fisheries and marine resource information to inform ecosystem-based management of the nearshore waters of Timor-Leste. These efforts were funded primarily by the USAID Timor-Leste Mission, with significant in-kind contributions and support from NOAA, as part of the 5-year partnership between NOAA and USAID.

NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program Ecosystem Science Evaluation

The 2016 NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program Ecosystem Science Evaluation is structured to determine the quality and usefulness of the program's products and information. Information from this evaluation is part of a larger Coral Reef Conservation Program analyses that will be used to structure future resource allocations. This evaluation will assess the quality, performance, and utility of the information and products produced by Coral Reef Conservation Program-funded ecosystem science projects and programs. As part of the analysis, information will be provided regarding program investments intended to create a better understanding of coral reef status and trends, address ecosystem level questions, and provide a better understanding of ecosystem dynamics and processes and their responses to ecological stressors. This review covers NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program ecosystem science only.

2014 Ocean Acidification: Educational Resources for High School Classrooms

Ocean acidification (OA) represents a direct chemical change to global ocean chemistry in response to rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Resources in this DVD are targeted for high school science educators combing introductory and in-depth materials.

2008 Coral Reef Education Resource CD

The 2008 Coral Reef Educational Resources CD is a collection of coral reef education and outreach materials created by state and federal agencies as well as non-profit organizations that are part of the Education and Outreach Working Group of the US Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF). The materials cover a wide-range of topics related to coral reefs, including basic coral biology, coral reef ecosystems, human use, threats, and conservation efforts.

NOAA's National Coral Reef Monitoring Program

Coral reefs are among the most valuable ecosystems on earth, providing people with goods and services that include food, storm protection, and recreational opportunities. Despite their importance, coral reef ecosystems are in decline from a myriad of man-made and natural threats. In response, the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program established an integrated and focused monitoring effort with partners across the U.S. - the National Coral Reef Monitoring Program (NCRMP). This program is a strategic framework for conducting sustained observations of biological, climatic, and socioeconomic indicators in U.S. states and territories. The resulting data provide a robust picture of the condition of U.S. coral reef ecosystems and the communities connected to them.

Watershed Scale Planning to Reduce Land-Based Sources of Pollution (LBSP) for the Protection of Coral Reefs in Southeast Florida: An Overview and Data Gap Assessment

This project provides an assessment framework for evaluating the impacts of land-based sources of pollution (LBSP) on the coral reef ecosystem in southeast coastal waters of Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties. Rapid population growth and intense increases in land development in this region over the past 50-100 years have put the coral reef ecosystem and supporting estuarine habitats under significant stress. Pollutants from these land-based human activities include nutrients (e.g. nitrogen and phosphorus), sediments, pathogens pharmaceutical and personal care products, and other LBSPs. These pollutants are discharged to the southeast Florida coastal ecosystem in large part in stormwater runoff (both urban and agricultural) and wastewater effluent and the management of stormwater and wastewater in southeast Florida affects the pollutants loads and ecosystem impacts. The purpose of this document is to assist the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative (SEFCRI) partners in tackling the problems associated with LBSP by identifying sources of pollution, data availability and gaps, and sources of information from past planning and management activities in southeastern Florida. This report creates a watershed-based framework for understanding and assessing the pollutant sources and loads, and uses nine coastal inlets in the region as the basis for defining the contributing watersheds. This report will provide a roadmap for future LBSP-related data collection and pollution reduction efforts in southeast Florida.

Improvements to NOAA Coral Reef Watch's near-real-time satellite monitoring and modeled predictions of coral bleaching thermal stress globally and regionally:

NOAA Coral Reef Watch is pleased to announce the release of its new Daily 5-km Satellite Coral Bleaching Thermal Stress Monitoring Product Suite (including new 5-km Regional Virtual Stations) and improved (Version 3.0) Four-Month Coral Bleaching Thermal Stress Outlook. While access to Coral Reef Watch's well-known heritage suite of 50-km operational satellite coral bleaching monitoring products will still be possible for the next several months, all users are encouraged to look over the new 5-km products and Four-Month Bleaching Outlook and provide feedback to Coral Reef Watch at: coralreefwatch@noaa.gov.

American Samoa Watershed and Coastal Uses Mapping Project for Fatumafuti, Faga’alu, and Utulei villages

The American Samoa Watershed and Coastal Uses Mapping project developed cartographic products derived from participatory mapping conducted in Utulei - Faga’alu, and Fatumafuti, American Samoa in January 2014. These are based on information gathered through participatory mapping workshops held in each village, where participatory GIS methods were used to generate spatial data on coastal and watershed uses and characteristics.The project is intended to fill a critical information gap regarding human activities and issues relating to water quality in these coastal watersheds, which include a NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program priority watershed site, in order to better inform planning and management activities.

NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Grant Program

NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) publishes Federal Funding Opportunities (FFOs) in the Federal Register to solicit proposals for coral reef conservation activities, as authorized by the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000 (CRCA). This page highlights some of the products produced through the Coral Program's various financial assistance awards. For general information about the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Grant Program please visit the CRCP website.

The Coral Program's Watershed Management Activities

An important component of NOAA's Coral Program efforts to protect coral reef ecosystems from land based sources of pollution (LBSP) has been the development of watershed management plans (WMPs) and conservation action plans. WMPs and CAPs outline a comprehensive set of actions and an overall management strategy for improving and protecting each jurisdiction's priority watershed sites from nonpoint and point sources of pollution. By providing technical assistance to the jurisdictions, fostering institutional partnerships and leveraging financial resources, NOAA and our partners are supporting the management of land-based activities to effectively address the impacts of LBSP.

Projections of Coral Bleaching and Ocean Acidification for Coral Reef Areas (based on ensembles of IPCC AR5 climate models)

Coral reefs and the services they provide are seriously threatened by ocean acidification and climate change impacts like coral bleaching. Here, updated global projections for these key threats to coral reefs are presented based on ensembles of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) climate models using the new Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) experiments. All projections presented within van Hooidonk et al. (2013) are shown in a Google Earth file presented on this web page.

American Samoa Coastal Uses Mapping Project

The American Samoa Coastal Use Mapping project conducted in Pago Pago, American Samoa in July 2012. Data was obtained through a participatory GIS workshop designed to gather spatial data on human uses of the coastal and nearshore marine environment in the greater Pago Pago Harbor region known as Fagaloa. The project was intended to fill a critical information gap regarding the spatial distribution of human activities in the American Samoa Coral Reef Strategy priority site in order to better inform planning and management activities.

Socio-economic Monitoring for US Coral Reef Jurisdictions

The Socio-economic Component of the National Coral Reef Monitoring Plan (NCRMP) will gather and monitor a collection of socio-economic variables, including demographics in coral reef areas, human use of coral reef resources, as well as knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions of coral reefs and coral reef management.  The overall goal of the socio-economic monitoring component is to track relevant information regarding each jurisdiction’s population, social and economic structure, the impacts of society on coral reefs, and the impacts of coral management on communities.  NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) will use the information for research and to improve the results of programs designed to protect coral reefs.

STEER Coastal Use Mapping Project

The STEER Coastal Use Mapping Project was designed to collect critical information on human activities in and near the St. Thomas East End Reserves (STEER). The project purpose is to improve understanding of the spatial range and intensity of key human activities and uses in this region in order to better inform resource management. Workshops were held on St. Thomas in May 2012, where local experts participated in creating maps of ocean uses for the STEER. Draft maps were presented to the workshop participants and other stakeholders in October 2012 for feedback and edits. The maps were finalized in November 2012. Products include a map book, a supplemental map product, and GIS data files.