Satellite imaging coral reef resilience at regional scale. A case-study from Saudi Arabia

Gwilym Rowlands, Sam Purkis, Bernhard Riegl, Liisa Metsamaa, Andrew Bruckner, Philip Renaud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


We propose a framework for spatially estimating a proxy for coral reef resilience using remote sensing. Data spanning large areas of coral reef habitat were obtained using the commercial QuickBird satellite, and freely available imagery (NASA, Google Earth). Principles of coral reef ecology, field observation, and remote observations, were combined to devise mapped indices. These capture important and accessible components of coral reef resilience. Indices are divided between factors known to stress corals, and factors incorporating properties of the reef landscape that resist stress or promote coral growth. The first-basis for a remote sensed resilience index (RSRI), an estimate of expected reef resilience, is proposed. Developed for the Red Sea, the framework of our analysis is flexible and with minimal adaptation, could be extended to other reef regions. We aim to stimulate discussion as to use of remote sensing to do more than simply deliver habitat maps of coral reefs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1222-1237
Number of pages16
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Coral
  • GIS
  • Red Sea
  • Remote-sensing
  • Resilience
  • Satellite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Pollution


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