NOAA Office of Satellite and Product Operations

NOAA/NESDIS 1998 Coral Bleaching HotSpots

The year of 1998 was a difficult time for the world's coral reefs, with abnormally warm sea surface temperatures (SST's) causing widespread coral bleaching. The animations and images on this page show the differences between the climatological maximum monthly mean SST (ie the expected summer-time maximum) and the satellite-derived NOAA/NESDIS nighttime SST fields. When the nighttime SST field is warmer than the expected summer-time maximum by 1 degree C, the region is shown in orange as a potential coral bleaching hotspot.

NOAA/NESDIS oceanographer, Dr. Al Strong, has collected reports of coral bleaching from an informal network of coral reef researchers and observers. These reports have been overlayed on the following 1998 animations and images.

Each asterisk symbolizes a new bleaching report and remains on the animation/image for four weeks.

red ball   The Animation of the Great Barrier Reef Bleaching Event, (El Nino, 1/17/98-4/17/98, 1.6 mb) depicts hotspots in the Indian Ocean intensifying east of Australia, east of Madagascar, and south of Africa, with bleaching reports noted in the Great Barrier Reef. The hotspots then dissipate somewhat and move northward towards India.

red ball   The Animation of the Indian Ocean Bleaching Event, (El Nino/La Nina transition period, 3/24/98-7/24/98, 1.0 mb) depicts hotspots from Africa to west of Indonesia and Australia moving northwards towards India, with coral bleaching reports scattered throughout the Indian Ocean.

red ball   The Animation of Bahrain, Red Sea and Eastern Pacific Bleaching Events, (early La Nina, 7/4/98-10/27/98, 0.8 mb) shows hotspots in Southeast Asia, with intense hotspots in the Red, Caspian, Black, Arabian, and Mediterranean Seas and east of Japan.

red ball   The Animation of the Western Hemisphere Bleaching Events, (early La Nina, 6/20/98-11/7/98, 1.1 mb) depicts hotspots near Panama and Colombia, followed by development of a large area of hotspots from the Atlantic to the Baja peninsula, with bleaching reports clustered in the Caribbean. The pattern then breaks up and shifts south between South America and northwest of Africa.

red ball   The Animation of HotSpots during El Nino, (1/3/98-6/6/98 in the Western Hemisphere, 2.0 mb) shows the classic pattern of an extensive region of hotspots reaching from the coasts of Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru out into the Pacific Ocean.

blue ball   The Indian Ocean Bleaching Event - time series , (3/24/98-8/11/98) is a series of five images showing hotspots extending the entire length of the Indian Ocean from Africa to Indonesia, with hotspots decreasing in intensity over time.

blue ball   The Western Hemisphere Bleaching Event - time series, (6/20/98-9/8/98) is a series of six images showing hotspots initially focused off the coast of Colombia and the Pacific side of lower Central America. Later hotspots are located east of Florida and in the Caribbean. Most of the reports indicate bleaching around Florida and Cuba.


Regularly Updated Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Imagery:
SST contour charts  |  5 km Geo-Polar Blended SST

Operational Coral Bleaching 5km Daily Products: Retrospective Coral Bleaching Monitoring Products: Other Links of Interest:

SST Anomalies


Degree Heating Weeks

Bleaching Alert Area

Subscribe to Email Alerts

CRW Satellite Bleaching Alerts

50 km Nighttime SST

1984-1998 SST monthly means

1984-1998 SST monthly mean Anomalies

1998/1999 seasonal DHWs

Coral Reef Watch

Coral Bleaching Virtual Stations

Comprehensive Large Array-data Stewardship System

National Climatic Data Center

Polar Orbiter Data and NOAA KLM User's Guides