Mapped coral mortality and refugia in an archipelago-scale marine heat wave

Gregory P. Asner, Nicholas R. Vaughn, Roberta Martin, Shawna A. Foo, Joseph Heckler, Brian J. Neilson, Jamison M. Gove

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


SignificanceCorals exhibit highly variable responses to marine heat waves as well as to local biological and ecological circumstances that moderate them across reef seascapes. This variability makes identifying refugia-reefs possessing conditions that increase coral resilience-nearly impossible with traditional surveys. We developed and applied an airborne coral mortality mapping approach to identify reef refugia in a major marine heat wave across the Hawaiian Islands. A combination of human and environmental factors, including reduced coastal development and lower sedimentation levels, advantaged the majority of refugia over neighboring reefs. High-resolution monitoring of coral mortality reveals a reef geography of both resilience and vulnerability to climate change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e2123331119
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number19
StatePublished - May 10 2022


  • coral bleaching
  • coral mortality
  • coral reef
  • Hawaiian Islands
  • reef resilience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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