HAB Forecasts


Our HAB forecasts alert coastal managers to blooms before they cause serious damage. Short-term (once or twice weekly) forecasts identify which blooms are potentially harmful, where they are, how big they are, and where they're likely headed. Longer-term, seasonal forecasts predict the severity of HABs for the bloom season in a particular region.

Early warning provides health officials, environmental managers and water treatment facility operators information to focus their testing to guide beach and shellfish bed closures or water treatment in a more appropriate timeframe. They also allow the seafood and tourism industries to minimize impacts.

HAB forecasts are based on understanding the causes of HABs and how they respond to changing weather and ocean conditions. The other critical component of a HAB forecast is the ability to routinely and remotely detect HABs, their toxins, and environmental conditions that foster blooms and enhance their toxicity.

NCCOS supports the development of seasonal and weekly HAB forecasts in collaboration with academic, state, and local partners. Like weather forecasts, HAB forecasts identify the potential risk of exposure to hazardous conditions (e.g. HAB toxins) to inform decisions that protect public health. These efforts span each U.S. coastal region affected by HABs, including the Great Lakes.

Once pilot forecasts are developed and validated, the forecasting ability is transitioned to operations, often as part of the NOAA HAB Operational Forecasting System (HABOFS). NOAA provides operational forecasts for HABs in Lake Erie and the Gulf of Mexico. NCCOS is currently funding research in support of pilot regional HAB forecasts in the Gulf of Maine (Alexandrium) and the Pacific Northwest (Pseudo-nitzscha), including Puget Sound (Alexandrium). Past NCCOS funding led to the development of the California Harmful Algae Risk Mapping (C-HARM) forecast model now available at NOAA CoastWatch.

**2019 Western Lake Erie Early Season Projection**

Western Lake Erie has been plagued by an increase of HABs intensity over the past decade. These blooms consist of cyanobacteria or blue-green algae, which are capable of producing toxins that pose a risk to human and animal health, foul coastlines, and impact communities and businesses that depend on the lake.

We have started the early season projection of this bloom. Details can be found at the link below (left). The 2018 bloom analysis can be found at the right below.

**2019 Lake Erie Final Seasonal Forecast Event Scheduled for July 11**

Following up on the rolling forecast, NOAA researchers, and various academic partners will hold an event at The Ohio State University’s Stone Laboratory on July 11, 2019 to release and discuss the final seasonal forecast. This will be the eighth seasonal forecast released. The event will also cover topics concerning the HABs, including the role of phosphorus, and the potential risks. The event will be made available for live streaming, through Ohio Sea Grant.

Lake Erie HAB Bulletin

NOAA has issued bulletins for HABs in Lake Erie starting as a weekly experimental product in 2009. The bulletin is now issued twice weekly. Lake Erie HAB Forecast information is available here. Also, the imagery for the Lake Erie bulletin has recently changed to a new color scale, as explained here.