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A massive 3-D map of the Great Barrier Reef

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    Daniel Martins
    Digital Reporter

    Sunday, December 1, 2013, 12:54 PM -

    The Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia's most iconic and well-known natural features - and for the first time, European satellites have created a high-res 3-D map of the huge coral formation.

    German remote sensing company EOMAP, supported by the European Space Agency, built the virtual map using satellite imagery, ocean topography data and tidal observations.

    EOMAP and the ESA say the map will help assess threats to the reef - an enormous ecosystem exposed to the effects of climate change, such as rising sea levels and more frequent cyclones.

    RELATED: Coral reefs worldwide are in trouble. Cheryl Santa Maria talks about the challenges they face in the latest Endangered Species.

    The data can also help authorities manage other threats, such as pollution, fishing and outbreaks of certain kinds of starfish that feed on coral reefs - which are actually living organisms made up of countless creatures called polyps.

    The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral system, covering some 344,000 sq km.

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