Harmful Algal Bloom Monitoring System

HAB Viewer map

What are Harmful Algal Blooms?

Harmful algal blooms (HABs), sometimes known as "red tide", occur when certain kinds of algae grow very quickly, forming patches, or "blooms", in the water. These blooms can emit powerful toxins which endanger human and animal health. Reported in every coastal state, HABs have caused an estimated $1 billion in losses over the last several decades to coastal economies that rely on recreation, tourism, and seafood harvesting. Blooms can lead to odors that require more costly treatment for public water supplies. NCCOS conducts and funds research that helps communities protect the public and combat blooms in cost-effective ways, and we are breaking new ground in the science of stopping blooms before they occur.

The Harmful Algal Bloom Monitoring System

NCCOS is developing the Algal Bloom Monitoring System to routinely deliver near real-time products for use in locating, monitoring and quantifying algal blooms in coastal and lake regions of the US. The products were developed from the European Space Agency's Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS). Algorithms are applied to MERIS images which are conducive to finding and monitoring large biomass blooms in estuarine and coastal regions and larger lakes, which are at least 1 km wide.

This application, developed by the NOAA's Special Projects Office, is the initial phase of displaying and delivering a suite of bloom detection products in the form of geographic based images. At this time products are available for selected regions (Ohio, Chesapeake Bay, Lake Erie and Florida). New products are being evaluated, and new regions are being considered; as they are proven useful, they will be made available through this system.

For information contact Richard.Stumpf@noaa.gov