Coral reefs are complex systems affected by multiple natural and human processes. Remote sensing provides the only practical way to measure meaningful large-scale variations to coral reefs.
Until now, the remote sensing of coral reefs has been conducted on an ad-hoc basis with little consistency or insight into its limitations. For example, we know that some aspects of reef health can be resolved on shallow reefs in French Polynesia but we cannot predict whether this would be realistic in, say, Jamaica, where reefs have a different flora and fauna, are located in deeper water, and where light penetration is slightly reduced.
Without a generic understanding of reef remote sensing, the technology may continue to be oversold or used to meet unrealistic management objectives, resulting in wasted investment.