Valerie Cornet - AIMS@JCU

Valerie Cornet

Recipient of an AIMS@JCU Scholarship

College of Science and Engineering

Valerie Cornet

College of Science and Engineering
Understanding coral reef dynamics through innovative remote sensing applications

Valerie is a PhD candidate at James Cook University. Her recently completed Masters Research Project focused on using remotely sensed data from drones to map out coral reefs using spectral unmixing techniques. She finished her Bachelors of Science at Imperial College London and after graduating, worked at various non-profits such as Reef Check Indonesia and the Misool Foundation, where she found practical application for her passion for coral restoration and research.

Understanding coral reef dynamics through innovative remote sensing applications

2021 to 2025

Project Description

The link between increasing water temperature and coral stress is well established, however, questions remain about how historical exposure and the nature of current heat events impact the sensitivity of coral. Using existing satellite-derived and in situ temperature data together with databases of coral observation, this project will investigate how impacts vary based on novel considerations of temperature history. In addition, drone platforms can provide high spatial and temporal resolution thermal imaging to provide better understanding of fine-scale thermodynamics within coral reef sectors. This project will primarily draw upon existing datasets but may include targeted data acquisition.

Project Importance

This study will contribute to our ability to raise early alarms with accurate bleaching alerts and create novel opportunities to enhance communication tools. Future models require improvements in order to provide more accurate predictions are effective alerts for future coral bleaching events.

Project Methods

The project will aim to build on current bleaching models by better incorporating historical trends and applying pre-existing models that have rarely been applied for this purpose, such as machine learning techniques. By conjoining satellite and drone-derived data, this project also aims to improve current remote sensing capabilities to accurately quantify coral bleaching. This will be done by using data from fine to broad scale and resolution, minimising the trade-offs presented when only using one remote sensing platform. Data will be analysed using Python.

Project Results

If successful, the project will help provide better, more reliable models on which bleaching alerts can be derived, in order to better guide coral reef management in the face of bleaching events.


Climate change,
Coastal development,
Coral reefs,
Management tools,
Natural disturbance,
Ocean acidification,
Ocean warming,
Remote Sensing,
Temporal change

Supervised By:

Neal Cantin (AIMS)

Scott Heron (JCU)

Jonathan Kok (AIMS)

Karen Joyce (JCU)