A comprehensive dataset on global coral reefs size and geometry

Giménez-Romero, Alex; Matias, Manuel A.; Duarte, Carlos M.
Submitted (2024)

Coral reefs are some of the Earth's most diverse ecosystems fulfilling essential ecological and societal functions. They provide coastal protection, support marine biodiversity, and contribute to the livelihoods of local communities. Despite their significance, coral reefs are under severe threat from climate change, overfishing, and pollution. A comprehensive understanding of their structure and formation is crucial to effectively protect and restore these ecosystems, which has been hitherto lacking. The introduction of the Allen Coral Atlas (ACA), featuring high-resolution satellite imagery of shallow-water tropical coral reefs, provides a significant advancement in global coral reef research and allows to address this limitation. This paper delineates the methodologies employed to process the ACA data, enabling the segmentation and creation of a comprehensive inventory of individual reefs. Various metrics related to reef size, shape, and geometry are calculated, providing a distinctive global perspective on these critical ecosystems. The generated dataset, comprising 1,579,772 individual reefs across various provinces, facilitates an in-depth understanding of coral reef ecosystems and sets the stage for informed conservation strategies.

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