HAB Identification and Monitoring: Overview
Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are a concern throughout the coastal areas of
the United States. They are known to cause human illness and death, fish kills
and marine mammal deaths. HABs are identified and monitored by assessing surface
chlorophyll concentrations detected by satellite imagery, coupled with data
collected by research vessels. Forecasting would improve predictions of bloom
movement and landfall, persistence, and toxicity. These predictions will aid
resource managers, industry and the public. For more information on regional
HAB applications, please follow the links above (Texas, Florida, Olympic Region).
HABs: Using SeaWiFs Data
Nov. 7, 2002, SeaWiFs image (20023111819), completely clear along the entire
US coast of the Gulf of Mexico; Vera Cruz Mexico to the Keys (with one cloud
at Looe Key)
Ocean color observations from satellite allow researchers to detect and monitor
for HABs, such as K. brevis, that dominate the phytoplankton biomass.
The SeaWiFS sensor provides the first of several sensors suitable for this
purpose. Work is being conducted on spectral and optical signatures. Accurate
determination of chlorophyll from satellite imagery will aid in HAB monitoring.
Also, near-daily coverage is essential to assure sufficient usable imagery
to document the blooms.
SeaWiFS is currently being used for routine monitoring of harmful algal blooms
in the Gulf of Mexico. On the Florida coast, the satellite imagery has provided
advanced detection of blooms, allowing the state and local officials to better
direct resources for sampling.
Additional NCCOS projects relating to this topic are: