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Free Content A data-driven expert system for producing coral bleaching alerts at Sombrero Reef in the Florida Keys, USA

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A computer expert system shell was employed to provide interpretations of near real-time acquired combinations of meteorological and oceanographic parameters from a SEAKEYS (Sustained Ecological Research Related to Management of the Florida Keys Seascape) station at Sombrero Reef. When environmental conditions were conducive to coral bleaching, according to different models, 'alerts' were automatically posted to the World-Wide Web and emailed to researchers so they could verify and study bleaching events as they might happen. The models were refined using feedback from field data on bleaching recorded after alerts from the expert system. The expert system was programmed to produce alerts when sea temperatures over 30°C occurred, or when temperatures of 30°C occurred concomitant with low winds. Alerts were produced in June 1998 when these conditions were met, but bleaching did not occur. Reconfiguration of the system, which included a point system for three models (high sea temperature only, high sea temperature plus low winds, high sea temperature plus low winds plus low tide), resulted in the transmittal of alerts which coincided with bleaching during early August, 1998. Bleaching occurred after sea temperature reached an average of 31.5°C over a period of 3 d, with excursions over 31.8°C occurring over 15 times during those 3 d. High sea temperatures, low wind speeds and a very low tide occurred coincident to the time of bleaching, but it was not possible to tell if these were factors acting synergistically.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2001

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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