The Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) Network in the Caribbean
As Climate Change intensifies, increasing ocean acidification and thermal stress affect coral reefs and lead to coral bleaching. It is therefore critical to monitor the various parameters that impact the coral reefs in the Caribbean. Strong Climate Change Early Warning Systems improve climate risk planning, management and action and are necessary to address the impacts of Climate Change, especially coral bleaching. To this end, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, through a collaboration with NOAA, is working to establish an integrated regional network of climate and biological monitoring stations to strengthen the region’s early warning mechanism.
Under the European Union Global Climate Change Alliance (EU-GCCA) Caribbean Support Project, the CCCCC has procured and installed five Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) stations at a cost of approximately US$800, 000 in Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, and the Dominican Republic (2 stations). CREWS stations have also been installed in Jamaica, Belize and elsewhere in the Caribbean using non-EU funding, such as from AUSAID, as part of the wider network.
The new CREWS stations became part of the NOAA’s Integrated Coral Observing Network (ICON)
of climate and biological monitoring stations that collect data on climate, marine and biological parameters for use by scientists to conduct research into the health of coral reefs in a changing and variable climate. Click here to see the coverage of the network in the Caribbean.
What is a CREWS station?
Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) stations consist of a basic suite of sensors, plus additional ones, depending upon local research the stations hope to support, and upon available funding. The basic suite of meteorological and air-based sensors measure air temperature, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, photosynthetically available radiation (PAR) and ultraviolet radiation (UVR). The basic suite of oceanographic sensors measure salinity, sea temperature, PAR (at 1m nominal) and UVR (at 1m nominal). Data from CREWS stations allow development of climate models and ecological forecasting in coral reef ecosystems.
Below is an image of the CREWS Station located at South Water Caye, Belize
According to NOAA, an ecological forecast predicts changes in ecosystems and ecosystem components in response to an environmental driver such as climate variability, extreme weather conditions, pollution, or habitat change. It also provides information about how people, economies, and communities may be affected. Local authorities and members of the public can use these early warnings to make decisions to protect the health and well-being of a particular area.
Click on the links in the table below to access the Eco-forecasts produced at stations in the Caribbean.