Environmental Protection essay June 13, 2019 – Posted in: Buy Cheap Essay Online

Satellites and Environmental Protection Essay

Sources of Pollution in Great Barrier Reef

Pollution in the Great Barrier Reef primarily emanates from sediment and chemical runoff from the neighboring farms. Most of these farms use fertilizers, which cause massive outbreak of crown-of-thorns starfish that annihilate the coral reefs (Roelfsema et al., 2014). Thunderstorms wash out large amounts of nutrients, chemical pollutants and sediments from cleared forests and the sugarcane fields to the sea, thereby, putting the Great Barrier Reef at immense risk. 

Effects of Pollution on Reefs at Great Barrier Reef

The growth of coral reefs requires clean and clear water in order to obtain the necessary sunlight. Pollutants and other sediments negatively affect coral reefs in the Great Barrier Reef as they prevent access to sunlight, while also smothering the reefs thereby inhibiting the growth of reefs (Selgrath et al., 2016). In addition, chemicals from fertilizers in runoff water could fasten the growth of destructive algae and lower the quality of water in the long-term and the short-term. On the same note, chemical pollution increases the risk of disease and cause coral bleaching.  

Current Usage of Satellite Technology

There are varying ways in which satellite technology is assisting in ocean and sea cleanup efforts, key among which is supporting aerial photography to detect enormous or massive marine debris. Indeed, it is noteworthy that scientists utilize satellites to spot and trace the enormous amounts of plastic from space in an effort to determine the areas in which it is concentrated the most. This, essentially, allows them to concentrate or focus their cleanup activities to these areas in the long-term and the short-term thereby ensuring efficient resource utilization (Selgrath et al., 2016). It is noteworthy that machine learning and satellite imaging have come in handy in supporting efforts to clean up. Indeed, they have been used to retrieve over 5 trillion pieces of plastic debris that scientists have spotted in the expansive garbage patches using satellite imaging. It is projected that over 50% of the total garbage in the oceans will be detected and collected in the next half a decade (Selgrath et al., 2016).

Use of Satellites in Protection and Preservation of Coral Reefs

Satellite technology has been effectively utilized in the preservation and protection of coral reefs particularly via enabling the monitoring of global large scale changes in temperature and allowing scientists to evaluate the trends and conditions in large water bodies across the globe. It is noteworthy that increasing advances in satellite imaging has provided finer-scale insights and details thereby allowing scientists to undertake more accurate and speedy actions including rescuing corals that are at risk of fatal bleaching. Further, satellite imaging could be used in assessing the health of coral reefs and, essentially, prevent further destruction of those that are heavily stressed. Such efforts could include redirecting snorkelers and divers to those that are not heavily stressed (Roelfsema et al., 2014).

On the same note, satellite technology is used in remote sensing where the physical features of a particular area are obtained via measuring the radiation that is discharged and reflected. In this case, remote sensing allows for the measurement of the pressures exerted on the coral reefs from anthropogenic stressors at a level that is adequately large to allow scientists to capture and detect extensive and usually understated changes or even spatially localized or episodic modification.

In addition, remote sensing using satellites has been effective in enhancing reef restoration. There are varying objectives for reef restoration including restoring the original species of coral reefs, enhancing coastal protection and diversity of the coral reefs, improving the live coral biomass, as well as the physical link between the varying colonies. In the past coral reefs have been replaced using outplanting. In this case, multiple coral fragments are obtained from established coral colonies and then attached to the reefs using ties, epoxy or even cement (Foo & Asner, 2019). Outplanting larger fragments usually produces better results as the larger corals mature faster and incorporate greater fertility compared to smaller corals. Nevertheless, outplanting can be significantly costly and labor-intensive, in which case the use of remote sensing via satellite technology has been much welcome. Remote sensing technologies have been effective in measuring certain reef features including mapping reef bathymetry and providing significantly detailed benthic habitat data. Using daily imaging via certain satellite technologies, multispectral technology can assist in the identification of reefs that would be restored through categorizing the magnitude and size of coral reef (Foo & Asner, 2019).

Further, the technology would be used in identifying regions that are most appropriate for outplanting. Scientists can use airborne hyperspectral remote sensing to successfully group benthos into distinctive bottom types. Access to varying types of data over a certain period of time would provide information on changes in reef connectivity, utilization of land and coastal development (Foo & Asner, 2019). This would also enable reef managers to implement earlier and significantly targeted approaches towards the defense of coral ecosystems. Such techniques could include lowering the allowable loads of pollutants, rescuing rare corals prior to their extermination via bleaching, as well as re-routing dive vessels to prevent destruction of vulnerable reefs.


Foo, S.A., & Asner, G.P. (2019). Scaling up coral reef restoration using remote sensing technology. Frontiers in Marine Science, <https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2019.00079 >

Roelfsema, C. M., Lyons, M., Kovacs, E. M., Maxwell, P., Saunders, M. I., & Samper-Villarreal, J., (2014). Multi-temporal mapping of seagrass cover, species and biomass: a semi-automated object based image analysis approach. Remote Sens. Environ. 150, 172–187.

Selgrath, J. C., Roelfsema, C., Gergel, S. E., & Vincent, A. C. G. (2016). Mapping for coral reef conservation: comparing the value of participatory and remote sensing approaches. Ecosphere 7:e01325