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The use of remote sensing to scale up measures of carbonate production on reef systems: a comparison of hydrochemical and census-based estimation methods

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The present study uses remote-sensing imagery to estimate carbonate production of the complete One Tree Island reef system, Great Barrier Reef, using hydrochemical (alkalinity reduction) and census-based (budgetary) methods. For five sites representing different benthic cover types across the reef system, carbonate production is determined using hydrochemical techniques that incubate substrates in a local aquarium and measure total alkalinity, total ammonia nitrogen, and total oxidized nitrogen. Local estimates are scaled up to the reef-system scale using a WorldView-2 satellite image, which is ground truthed against a field data set of 350 spatially referenced records of benthic assemblage. Annual total reef system carbonate production based on hydrochemical and census-based methods is estimated at 40,335 and 38,998 tonnes of calcium carbonate (CaCO3), respectively. The minimal difference (0.3%) between these estimates is attributed to under representation of small carbonate producers, such as benthic foraminifera, which are difficult to incorporate in the underwater video methodology employed to populate census budgets. This finding demonstrates the utility of remote sensing for upscaling local measures of carbonate production across reef systems accurately and consistently in spite of the use of different initial estimation methods.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia 2: National Institute of Oceanography, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel 3: Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Publication date: September 20, 2013

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