Geocarto International, 23:467-479, 5, 2008. Paper abstract bibtex
In this article, we present a satellite-based approach to gather information about the threat to coral reefs worldwide. Three chosen reef stressors – development, gas flaring and heavily lit fishing boat activity – are analysed using nighttime lights data derived from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) produced at the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, National Geophysical Data Center (NOAA/ NGDC). Nighttime lights represent a direct threat to coral reef ecosystems and are an excellent proxy measure for associated human-caused stressors. A lights proximity index (LPI) is calculated, measuring the distance of coral reef sites to each of the stressors and incorporating the stressor’s intensity. Colourized maps visualize the results on a global scale. Area rankings clarify the effects of artificial night lighting on coral reefs on a regional scale. The results should be very useful for reef managers and for state administrations to implement coral reef conservation projects and for the scientific world to conduct further research.