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Great Lakes Researchers to Improve Identification and Response to Freshwater Harmful Algal Bloom Events

In the Great Lakes, toxins produced by cyanobacteria (a.k.a blue-green algae) present a serious threat to recreational activities and public health. Toxins can have serious, even fatal effects on humans and animals. To address the myriad of bloom-related problems faced by this region, a team of MERHAB-funded scientists are developing an integrated HAB alert system of detection methods.

Scientists demonstrated the efficacy of the combined application of satellite, conventional harmful algal bloom (HAB) detection methods, and novel quantitative molecular tools (such as quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR) to detect, assess, predict, control, and mitigate HAB events. This practical, tiered alert approach to monitoring potentially toxic cyanobacterial blooms on Lake Erie will be refined and expanded upon over the next two years, incorporating advances in transport modeling that will allow predictions of bloom movement.

In addition, researchers are coordinating with public health and water quality managers to raise awareness about toxic HAB impacts and the need for sustained HAB monitoring in the Great Lakes. The MERHAB partners involved are from State University of New York (SUNY) College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF)SUNY BrockportUniversity at BuffaloUniversity of Vermont, Western Michigan University, New York State Sea Grant, and the University of Tennessee.

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