New Delhi: To transform our understanding of Earth's valuable and ecologically sensitive coral reefs, NASA has started airborne mission in Australia for a two-month investigation of the the world's largest reef ecosystem, the Great Barrier Reef.
According to NASA, scientists from its Coral Reef Airborne Laboratory (CORAL) mission and their Australian collaborators discussed the mission's objectives and the new insights they expect to glean into the present condition of the Great Barrier Reef and the function of reef systems worldwide.
"CORAL offers the clearest, most extensive picture to date of the condition of a large portion of the world's coral reefs," said CORAL Principal Investigator Eric Hochberg of the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), Ferry Reach, St. George's, Bermuda, prior to the briefing.
As per reports, the mission will provide critical data and new models for analyzing reef ecosystems from a new perspective. CORAL will generate a uniform data set for a large sample of reefs across the Pacific Ocean.
Scientists can use these data to search for trends between coral reef condition and the natural and human-produced biological and environmental factors that affect reefs.
Over the next year, CORAL will survey portions of the Great Barrier Reef, along with reef systems in the main Hawaiian Islands, the Mariana Islands and Palau.
The Great Barrier Reef is located in the Coral Sea off Queensland and encompasses more than 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands. It is more than 1,400 miles (2,300 kilometers) long and covers an area of about 133,000 square miles (344,400 square kilometers). The largest single structure made by living organisms on Earth, the reef teems with biodiversity, including about 400 species of coral. It attracts about 2 million visitors a year; in turn, tourism and fishing generate billions annually and employ tens of thousands of people.