Hawai′i’s coral reefs support a vibrant array of animals and plants, providing cultural, economic, and recreational opportunities to residents and visitors. However, pollution, overfishing, and ocean warming threaten Hawai′i’s coral reefs. In 2016, Hawai′i Governor David Ige announced the Hawai′i Marine 30-by-30 Initiative, under which the state commits to effectively manage 30% of Hawai′i’s reefs by 2030.
To target areas for potential management measures, Hawai′i natural resource managers need to better understand reef extent and condition across its coastline. The Lenfest Ocean Program is funding a project by Dr. Greg Asner, Director of Arizona State University’s new Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science, and a team of researchers to create high-resolution maps of nearshore coral reef habitat across the eight main Hawai′ian Islands.
The research team will use raw data from previous flight surveys conducted by the Global Airborne Observatory (GAO), Dr. Asner’s aircraft-based laboratory, which is fitted with advanced three-instrument remote sensing. They will then develop and disseminate maps that differentiate between live and dead coral, sand, and macroalgae in waters up to 15 meters deep.