CoralBeat Wins First NASA App Challenge in Hawaii

Photo by Ryan Ozawa
Photo by Ryan Ozawa

The threat that climate change and human activity poses to the world’s coral reefs was the focus of the winning entry in Hawaii’s first NASA Space Apps Challenge event.

CoralBeat won “Best Overall App” at the Honolulu competition, which was held at the Manoa Innovation Center from April 22-24. The diverse team included coders, scientists and science enthusiasts, and subject matter experts from NOAA and the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology.

CoralBeat is an app focused on coral bleaching in Hawaii, with an interactive map that displays years of NASA satellite data depicting sea surface temperatures observed over the entire globe. An animation in the app shows how the ocean has warmed during the most recent El Niño event.

With CoralBeat, a user can zoom into a coastal region around Hawaii to see the areas most impacted by coral bleaching, and explore geo-referenced observations of impacted corals. Other interactive features include photos, videos and an interactive 3D reef scan.

“Hawaii, along with the rest of the world, has now experienced three global coral bleaching events, two of them in the last two years, 2014 and 2015,” said Ouida Meier of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology in a press release. “This year is predicted to be warm enough to cause corals to lose their algal partners and bleach yet again, and three years in a row of this stress will be devastating for most corals.”

“Right now, in fact, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is experiencing massive coral bleaching and mortality – the worst they’ve ever experienced in recorded history,” Meier added.

In addition to Meier, the CoralBeat team included McKay Davis, Noah Pomeroy, Yukio Yamamoto, Brad Baris, Karen Tanigawa, Melanie Abecassis, Russell Vea, Trung Lam, and Burt Lum.

The NASA Apps Challenge, now in its fifth year, provides an opportunity for citizens to get involved in serving their community by using technology and science data to create new, innovative applications and platforms. Last year, over 14,000 participants around the world developed nearly 1,000 projects leveraging data from NASA.

Participants gathered at the Manoa Innovation Center to use their diverse expertise and imagination to create innovative projects. The 2016 challenge categories included Technology, Aeronautics, Space Station, Solar System, Earth Live and Journey to Mars. Local projects can then be submitted to a global panel of judges to compete for several awards and win an invitation to NASA to attend a rocket launch.

For more information on the Honolulu event, visit:

For more information about the national initiative, visit:

For information on the Coral Beat entry:

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