Cohort Level: Cohort - II
Career Goal: To keep doing research to improve the coastal and coral reef resilience, and/or have the opportunity to work for NOAA or at an environmental agency.
Expected Graduation Date: September 1, 2019
Degree: M.S Earth Systems Sciences and Environmental Engineering
Research Title: Thermal Stress and Bleaching in Coral Reef Communities during the 2014-2016 Caribbean Bleaching Event
Research Synopsis: The goal of my research is to analyze the extent to which satellite-based measurement of heat stress conditions in coral systems relate to in-situ coral bleaching observations. We employ data sets produced from NOAA Coral Reef Watch CRW Degree Heat Week (DHW) comparing them with in-situ bleaching observations in the Caribbean coral reefs for the so-called Third Global Bleaching event for 2014, 2015 and 2016. The DHW is derived from the remote sensing data of sea surface temperature (SST), and provides an indicator of the thermal stress for the coral reefs.I performed two analyses. The first analysis involved developing regional groupings of DHW observations by the Virtual Stations. The second analysis consisted of a pixel-based assessment of grouped observations each by 0.05-degree pixel (5Km by 5Km). Significant coral bleaching is expected to occur one to three weeks after reefs begin to experience DHW values over 4°C weeks. Mass bleaching and mortality are expected after 8°C weeks. The current work is analyze multi-year datasets in more detail for the Florida Keys, where the most complete coral bleaching observations are available, to see how thermal stress varies with bleaching observations for each year across multiple years. This time series analysis will include linear regression and K-means cluster analyses. Preliminary analyses for the K-means has showed the distribution of the DHW was noticeable around 5 °Celsius and 67% bleaching. For observations where DHW values > 4°C-weeks, bleaching was expected and confirmed by in-situ bleaching observations. I seek to develop an understanding of how thermal stress related to repetitions bleaching events across multiple years