Belize Coral Reef Risk

by | Apr 11, 2023

Using two decades of NASA satellite measurements stored in the cloud, scientists recently assessed the vulnerability of Belize’s renowned coral reefs to bleaching and collapse. The findings could help management authorities protect the reefs from human impacts such as development, overfishing, pollution and climate change. 

The 185-mile-long (298-kilometer-long) barrier reef system off the coast of Belize encompasses vibrant marine environments that support thousands of animal and plant species and drive the Central American country’s largest industry, tourism. The system is one of about 1,200 UNESCO World Heritage sites around the world. 

In a study published in Frontiers in Remote Sensing, the scientists ranked 24 marine protected areas off the Belize coast based on the risks coral face from murky water and rising temperatures. The study also outlined how researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California and counterparts in Belize used free, cloud-based data on Google Earth Engine in their analysis. 

Image Credit: Adobe Stock/James 

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