With the Landsat 7 data we can rigorously test hypotheses about
how entire reef ecosystems form,— says coral reef ecologist Bruce Hatcher of Dalhousie
University—We no longer are limited to the observations we can collect by wandering
around in small boats and sampling individual reefs to infer large-scale processes from
a few samples.
Landsat 7 measurements of live coral in the Carysfort Reef,
the largest reef in the Florida Keys, matches detailed surveys taken on the ground, according
to a joint study by Frank Muller-Karger, Serge Andrefouet, and Dave Palandro of the
University of South Floridas College of Marine Science and Phil Dustan of the College
of Charleston. The surface area of live coral in this reef has declined from more than
50 percent to less than 5 percent since 1975.