Skip to main content

In situ and remotely sensed temperature comparisons on a Central Pacific atoll

Abstract

Climate-induced warming events increasingly threaten coral reefs, heightening the need for accurate quantification of baseline temperatures and thermal stress in these ecosystems. To assess the strengths and weaknesses of NOAA satellite sea surface temperature and in situ measurements, we compared 5 yr of these data on Kiritimati atoll, in the central equatorial Pacific. We find that (1) satellite measurements were similar to in situ measurements (~ 10 m depth), albeit slightly warmer, with measurements converging once above Kiritimati’s maximum monthly mean; (2) in situ loggers detected subsurface cooling events missed by satellites; (3) thermal baselines and anomalies were consistent around the island; and (4) in situ degree heating week (DHW) calculations were most comparable to NOAA DHWs when calculated using NOAA’s climatology. These results suggest that NOAA’s satellite products accurately reflect conditions on central Pacific reefs, but that in situ measurements can identify localized events, such as subsurface upwelling, that may be ecologically relevant for corals.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

References

  • Aronson R, Precht WF, Toscano M, Koltes K (2002) The 1998 bleaching event and its aftermath on a coral reef in Belize. Marine Biology 141:435–447

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brainard RE, Oliver T, McPhaden MJ, Cohen A, Venegas R, Heenan A, Vargas-Ángel B, Rotjan R, Mangubhai S, Flint E, Hunter SA (2018) Ecological Impacts of the 2015/16 El Niño in the Central Equatorial Pacific. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 99:S21–S26

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Castillo KD, Lima FP (2010) Comparison of in situ and satellite-derived (MODIS-Aqua/Terra) methods for assessing temperatures on coral reefs. Limnology and Oceanography: Methods

    Google Scholar 

  • Claar DC, Baum JK (2019) Timing matters: survey timing during extended heat stress can influence perceptions of coral susceptibility to bleaching. Coral Reefs 38:559–565

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cobb KM, Charles CD, Cheng H, Edwards RL (2003) El Niño Southern Oscillation and tropical Pacific climate during the last millennium. Nature 424:271–276

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cobb KM, Westphal N, Sayani HR, Watson JT, Di Lorenzo E, Cheng H, Edwards RL, Charles CD (2013) Highly variable El Niño Southern Oscillation throughout the Holocene. Science 339:67–70

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Donlon CJ, Minnett PJ, Gentemann C, Nightingale TJ, Barton IJ, Ward B, Murray MJ (2002) Toward improved validation of satellite sea surface skin temperature measurements for climate research. Journal of Climate 15:353–369

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gentemann CL, Minnett PJ (2008) Radiometric measurements of ocean surface thermal variability. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans 113

  • Gleeson MW, Strong AE (1995) Applying MCSST to coral reef bleaching. Advances in Space Research 16:151–154

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Grothe PR, Cobb KM, Bush SL, Cheng H, Santos GM, Southon JR, Lawrence Edwards R, Deocampo DM, Sayani HR (2016) A comparison of U/Th and rapid screen 14C dates from Line Islands fossil corals. Geochem Geophys Geosyst 17:833–845

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hendee J, Liu G, Strong A, Sapper J, Sasko D, Dahlgren C (2002) Near real-time validation of satellite sea surface temperature products at Rainbow Gardens Reef, Lee Stocking Island, Bahamas

  • Hoegh-Guldberg O, Mumby PJ, Hooten AJ, Steneck RS, Greenfield P, Gomez E, Harvell D, Sale PF, Edwards AJ, Caldeira K, Knowlton NN, Eakin CM, Iglesias-Prieto R, Muthiga NA, Bradbury RH, Dubi A, Hatziolos ME (2007) Coral reefs under rapid climate change and ocean acidification. Science 318:1737–1742

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hoeke R, Gove J, Smith E, Fisher-Pool P, Lammers M, Merritt D, Vetter O, Young C, Wong K, Brainard R (2009) Coral reef ecosystem integrated observing system: In-situ oceanographic observations at the US Pacific islands and atolls. Journal of Operational Oceanography 2:3–14

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hughes TP, Anderson KD, Connolly SR, Heron SF, Kerry JT, Lough JM, Baird AH, Baum JK, Berumen ML, Bridge TC, Claar DC, Eakin CM, Gilmour JP, Graham NAJ, Harrison H, Hobbs J-PA, Hoey AS, Hoogenboom M, Lowe RJ, McCulloch MT, Pandolfi JM, Pratchett M, Schoepf V, Torda G, Wilson SK (2018) Spatial and temporal patterns of mass bleaching of corals in the Anthropocene. Science 359:80–83

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Karnauskas KB, Cohen AL (2012) Equatorial refugee amid tropical warming. Nat Clim Change 2:530–534

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Liu G, Eakin CM, Rauenzahn JL, Christensen TRL, Scott F, Li J, Skirving W, Strong AE, Burgess T (2012) NOAA Coral Reef Watch’s Decision Support System for Coral Reef Management. 1997

  • Liu G, Skirving WJ, Geiger EF, De La Cour JL, Marsh BL, Heron SF, Tirak KV, Strong AE, Eakin CM (2017) NOAA Coral Reef Watch’s 5 km Satellite Coral Bleaching Heat Stress Monitoring Product Suite Version 3 and Four-Month Outlook Version 4. Reef Encounter 32:39–45

    Google Scholar 

  • Maturi E, Harris A, Mittaz J, Sapper J, Wick G, Zhu X, Dash P, Koner P (2017) A new high-resolution sea surface temperature blended analysis. Bull Am Meteorol Soc, 1015–1026

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McClanahan TR, Ateweberhan M, Ruiz Sebastián C, Graham NAJ, Wilson SK, Bruggemann JH, Guillaume MMM (2007) Predictability of coral bleaching from synoptic satellite and in situ temperature observations. Coral Reefs 26:695–701

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Montgomery RS, Strong AE (1994) Coral bleaching threatens oceans, life. Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union 75:145–147

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • NOAA Coral Reef Watch (2018) CoralTemp version 3.1

  • NOAA CRW (2013) NOAA Coral Reef Watch Daily Global 5-km Satellite Coral Bleaching Degree Heating Week Product

  • R Development Core Team (2008) R: A language and environment for statistical computing

  • Sheppard C (2009) Large temperature plunges recorded by data loggers at different depths on an Indian Ocean atoll: Comparison with satellite data and relevance to coral refuges. Coral Reefs 28:399–403

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Skirving WJ., Marsh BL, Liu G, De La Cour JL., Harris A, Heron SF., Geiger EF., Maturi E, Eakin CM (2018) NOAA Coral Reef Watch (CRW) CoralTemp: 5 km Gap-free Analyzed Blended Sea Surface Temperature Product for the Global Ocean

  • Stobart B, Mayfield S, Mundy C, Hobday AJ, Hartog JR (2016) Comparison of in situ and satellite sea surface-temperature data from South Australia and Tasmania: How reliable are satellite data as a proxy for coastal temperatures in temperate southern Australia? Mar Freshw Res 67:612–625

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Strong AE, Kimura T, Yamano H, Tsuchiya M, Kakuma SI, van Woesik R (2002) Detecting and monitoring 2001 coral reef bleaching events in Ryukyu Islands, Japan using satellite bleaching HotSpot remote sensing technique. IEEE Int Geosci Remote Sens Symp 1:237–239

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Strong AE, Liub G, Skirving W, Eakin CM (2011) NOAA’s coral reef watch program from satellite observations. Annals of GIS 17:83–92

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Walsh SM (2011) Ecosystem-scale effects of nutrients and fishing on coral reefs. Journal of Marine Biology 2011:1–13

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Watson MS, Claar DC, Baum JK (2016) Subsistence in isolation: fishing dependence and perceptions of change on Kiritimati, the world’s largest atoll. Ocean and Coastal Management 123:1–8

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wei T, Simko V (2017) R package “corrplot”: visualization of a correlation matrix

  • Wellington GM, Glynn PW, Strong AE, Navarrete SA, Wieters E, Hubbard D (2001) Crisis on coral reefs linked to climate change. Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union 82:1–5

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

Thanks to the Kiritimati Field Team, especially K. Tietjen, for assistance in deploying and retrieving loggers, and to the NOAA CRW team for developing the satellite products used in these analyses. Thanks to J Schanze for discussion on an earlier version of the manuscript. DCC acknowledges funding from an NSERC Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, AAUS, a National Geographic Young Explorers Grant, the University of Victoria (UVic), the Women Divers Hall of Fame, and Divers Alert Network. This comparison was made possible by a Sea-Bird Electronics equipment grant to DCC. DCC and JKB acknowledge funding from UVic and UVic’s Centre for Asia–Pacific Initiatives. JKB acknowledges support from the Schmidt Ocean Institute, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Rufford Maurice Laing Foundation, an NSERC Discovery Grant and E.W.R. Steacie Fellowship, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, and a Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation. KMC acknowledges support from NSF award 1446343.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Danielle C. Claar.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Topic Editor Morgan Pratchett

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 857 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Claar, D.C., Cobb, K.M. & Baum, J.K. In situ and remotely sensed temperature comparisons on a Central Pacific atoll. Coral Reefs 38, 1343–1349 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00338-019-01850-4

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00338-019-01850-4

Keywords

  • NOAA CoralTemp
  • Kiritimati
  • Kiribati
  • Sea surface temperature (SST)
  • Degree heating weeks
  • Thermal anomalies