New Algae App in Development by USGS, NASA, NOAA, U.S. EPA

[Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon / NASA Earth Observatory]

Four national agencies recently announced a $3.6 million joint research project aimed at better predicting, and communicating to the public about, harmful algae blooms, like the one that led to a drinking water crisis in Toledo last summer.  ideastream’s Anne Glausser has more.

NASA, NOAA, the U.S. EPA, and the USGS have joined forces on a new national project.  They’ll take a slew of satellite data about the Great Lakes and other waterways and integrate it with field sampling and models.  The goal is to more accurately predict when harmful algae blooms are or might soon be occurring. 

In Ohio, this work will build on the “nowcast” algae alert system that is already in place for Lake Erie.  Researchers hope to improve the accuracy of algae forecasting as well as create a mobile app that will allow anyone to see when and where there are public health threats from toxic algae.

Keith Loftin is the lead USGS researcher on the project. "Basically we’re trying to take what we understand about harmful algal blooms and get it distilled down into a format and get it to decision-makers' hands in a quicker turnaround time, that they can actually do something with," he said.

Loftin says the algae app is in beta testing right now and may be ready within a year.


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