About this Research Topic
Coral reefs provide key ecosystem goods and services to hundreds of millions of people around the world. Unfortunately, reefs are also under increasing threat from both local and global perturbations. Field studies provide crucial information about coral reef structure and function from molecule to community scales, but there is far less understanding of reefs and their processes across landscapes, ecosystems, regions, and ocean basins. Airborne and satellite remote sensing techniques are currently the only means to observe and monitor reefs at these scales.
Digital remote sensing of coral reefs has been an area of research and development since the 1970s. Hundreds of case studies have demonstrated potential utility and pitfalls of the technology for retrieving bathymetry, geomorphology, "habitats", community composition, water quality, and benthic processes, among other emergent reef characteristics. Demonstrations have included airborne and spaceborne platforms, active and passive sensors, and algorithms ranging from simple band ratios for broadband multispectral imagery to complex semianalytical optimizations for narrowband imaging spectroscopy. Only in the past few years of the 2010s has remote sensing finally begun to graduate from the object of its own research into a tool more readily applied for science and management of reefs. Technology continues to advance, bringing applications to small, lightweight sensor systems deployable on commonly available drones, effectively placing advanced remote sensing capabilities in the hands of individual researchers and managers.
We solicit articles that present and discuss state-of-the-art and novel applications of remote sensing for coral reef environments, from fundamental reef science to management support. Papers are encouraged that cover all aspects of the topic, including sensor development, new algorithmic approaches, emerging modes of deployment, and strategies for product validation. However, submitted papers should not simply present a technology case study demonstration, but rather should take a step further and relate to a relevant coral reef science or management application. Much as a microscope is a tool for the study of microbes, the aim of this Topic is to present remote sensing as a tool for the study of reefs at ecosystem (and larger) scale.
Keywords: coral reef, remote sensing, applied science, resource management, validation
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