NOAA's Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) and Integrated Coral Observing Network (ICON) are two closely related projects that have together amassed a long-term dataset of in situ measurements in the near environments of coral reefs throughout Florida, the Caribbean and the world. These observations are largely reported in close to real-time via satellite, radio and cellular networks and their data are immediately analyzed using expert systems models to produce useful predictions (termed "ecoforecasts") about ecological conditions that may impact coral reefs.
The first CREWS station was a buoy installed in the Bahamas in 2001. Since then, six fixed-pylon stations have been installed in the Bahamas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Saipan (U.S. CNMI), with lifetimes spanning the years from 2002 to 2014. Two collaborative or "hybrid" CREWS stations were installed on land or on marine navigational beacons (2008 to present), and in later years CREWS has been installing buoys in Belize, the Cayman Islands, and Tobago (2013 onwards) with more buoys to come in Barbados and the Dominican Republic. Early CREWS data were processed by an expert system coded in CLIPS (C Language Integrated Production System).
Beginning in 2004, the CLIPS expert system was migrated to the more powerful G2 platform produced by the Gensym corporation and began to integrate data from non-CREWS sources including satellite observations, model output and other in situ experiments. This larger expert system became known as ICON. Today, the names CREWS and ICON are sometimes used interchangeably although CREWS now more properly refers to the in situ observing platforms and ICON refers to the G2 expert system and the ecoforecasts it produces.
Please visit our CREWS/ICON People page for details about our team membership.
The vision of the Integrated Coral Observing Network (ICON) is to serve as a model for all of NOAA in establishing a high quality in situ coral reef monitoring network and for the integration of near real-time in situ, satellite, radar, and other data for ecological forecasting in coral reef ecosystems.
CREWS stations collect meteorological and oceanographic measurements that are processed with a suite of expert systems which determine whether the data being received are within a reasonable range, and whether certain environmental conditions are conducive to specific marine behavioral events (e.g., bleaching).
The basic CREWS instrumentation architecture has evolved over time into a robust package that, combined with a regimen of regular instrument cleaning and recalibration, has yielded a continuous, long-term, high-quality dataset from these harsh marine environments.
AOML has worked under the auspices of the NOAA Diving Program and other institutional organizations to develop an innovative approach to the installation of temporary, yet extremely robust, dynamic pylons for purposes of in situ monitoring of environmental conditions that influence coral reef ecoystems.