Researchers named the map The Allen Coral Atlas after the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. The service will be a reference for people involved in reef conservation, marine planning and coral research. In the past few years, this has become especially relevant due to plans to save fragile ecosystems that are being destroyed by climate change.
The team behind the service said it was the first high-resolution global map of its kind. It allows users to see detailed information about the reefs, including different types of underwater structures – sand, rocks, seagrass and corals.
Maps up to 15m deep can be used to guide decisions about marine reserves, spatial infrastructure planning, and upcoming coral restoration projects. “Our biggest contribution is that we got a single map of the entire coral reef biome,” said Greg Asner, managing director of the service.
Asner said they rely on a network of hundreds of field personnel to provide them with information about the reefs so they can program satellites and software to focus on areas of interest.
Service employees noted that previously about three quarters of the world’s reefs had never been mapped, especially at depth. It took four years to create this map – the project began in 2017.