Less than 1% of the ocean floor consists of coral reefs. But more than one-quarter of marine animals live in them. With rising temperatures bleaching corals across oceans, Nasa scientists turn to an unlikely tool: a smartphone app. A team of Nasa scientists in Silicon Valley has developed NeMO-Net, a game to classify corals, into a tool for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa). Without the app, mapping reefs usually involves high amounts of data and low-quality photos, which lead to slow analysis. Eight per cent of the ocean floor is mapped out, said Ved Chirayath, an earth scientist with Nasa who leads the team, at the same photo resolution as terrestrial land. “The key questions of where is the coral, how healthy is it, and how is it changing over time – that has to be answered by somebody, in the past, having to go through the mapping data and manually classifying those corals,” Chirayath said. Corals get their bright colors from algae within them. When corals live under stress, they expel the algae and turn pale white, leaving them starving but not dead, yet. The world’s oceans take up 90% of the heat from greenhouse gas […]

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