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Satellite’s Silence Jeopardizes Algal Bloom Forecasts

Published on: 04/18/2012

On April 8, 2012, the European Space Agency lost contact with its main environmental monitoring satellite, a key data source for developmental harmful algal bloom forecasts in Lake Erie, the Chesapeake Bay, and Florida’s east coast.

The satellite–Envisat 1–houses the only instrument able to discriminate cyanobacteria from other algae, as well as find intense blooms in highly colored coastal waters.

Just last November, the Director of Ohio’s Environmental Protection Agency wrote to thank Dr. Lubchenco for the Lake Erie forecast’s ‘invaluable service’ that helped them ‘save money and resources’ dealing with noxious summer blooms that plague the lake’s communities.

National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science researchers are currently trying to minimize the loss to these key forecasts. CO-OPS’s forecast systems for the coasts of the Florida Gulf and Texas are not affected by this development.

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May 9, 2012: European Space Agency declares the satellite mission lost.

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