Science Inventory

The Cyanobacteria Assessment Network - Recent Success in Harmful Algal Bloom Detection

Citation:

Ernst, S. The Cyanobacteria Assessment Network - Recent Success in Harmful Algal Bloom Detection. IN: Science Matters, US EPA Office of Research and Development, Washington, DC, n/a, (2017).

Impact/Purpose:

This newsletter article is about the Cyanobacteria Assessment Network (CyAN), a multi-agency project involving EPA, NASA, NOAA, and USGS that utilizes historical and current satellite data to provide an early warning indicator system for harmful algal blooms (HABs) in U.S. freshwater systems, and their recent success in detecting a HAB in Utah. HABs are a huge environmental problem across the United States, and are capable of producing dangerous toxins that threaten the health of humans and animals, the quality of drinking water supplies, and the ecosystem in which they develop. CyAN’s goal is to eventually disseminate satellite-derived imagery and data on the concentration and extent of chl-a and cyanobacteria abundance for the continental U.S. through an Android mobile application and the EnviroAtlas, an interactive resource that allows users to discover, analyze, and download data, maps, and other information, to provide expedient public health advisory postings. As CyAN continues to grow, so will scientists’ understanding of the connections between human health, economic values, and environmental conditions to cyanobacteria and phytoplankton blooms.

Description:

Cyanobacteria blooms, which can become harmful algal blooms (HABs), are a huge environmental problem across the United States. They are capable of producing dangerous toxins that threaten the health of humans and animals, quality of drinking water supplies, and the ecosystem in which they develop. Scientists at EPA are part of a team of specialists working to use remote sensing data to improve cyanobacteria detection methods, so state environmental and health agencies can effectively monitor the abundance of cyanobacteria cells and evaluate, in the context of human health thresholds, the necessity to post public advisories to protect human health. The Cyanobacteria Assessment Network (CyAN), a multi-agency project involving EPA, NASA, NOAA, and USGS, utilizes historical and current satellite data to create an early warning indicator system for HABs in U.S. freshwater systems. Since the project’s inception in October 2015, CyAN imagery has been used to detect algal blooms in Ohio, Florida, California, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Satellite data products and imagery were recently provided to the Utah Division of Water Quality (UDWQ) to support their cyanobacteria monitoring activities due to the severity of Utah’s cyanobacteria blooms in 2016. Satellite imagery acquired approximately one week after the UDWQ’s routine monthly sampling in mid-June identified that a bloom was developing in Provo Bay. Based on this information, UDWQ scientists returned to the area for follow-up sampling. Days later, on June 29, they issued an advisory about a cyanobacteria bloom detected in Utah Lake, warning the public to keep themselves and their pets out of Provo Bay. Benjamin M. Holcomb, Coordinator of Biological Assessment and HAB Programs with UDWQ, gave CyAN the following acknowledgement: “The images we've been receiving through the CyAN project have been tremendously helpful to UDWQ. The near-daily spatial extent and relative magnitude coverage provides the foundation for a wide range of useful outputs. For HAB response, the most likely useful output of providing near-immediate alerts when cyanobacteria cells are reaching human health thresholds gives UDWQ the opportunity to respond more quickly than relying on public reports. Additionally, it provides UDWQ confidence that our in-situ, bloom-response data are representative of very recent bloom conditions. This allows UDWQ to better target field sampling and more efficiently use our limited resources. Finally, images are easily shared with response agencies as a useful visual communication aid.” CyAN’s goal is to eventually disseminate satellite-derived imagery and data on the concentration and extent of chl-a and cyanobacteria abundance for the continental U.S. through an Android mobile application and the EnviroAtlas, an interactive resource that allows users to discover, analyze, and download data, maps, and other information, to provide expedient public health advisory postings. As CyAN continues to grow, so will scientists’ understanding of the connections between human health, economic values, and environmental conditions to cyanobacteria and phytoplankton blooms.

URLs/Downloads:

https://www.epa.gov/sciencematters/cyanobacteria-assessment-network-recent-success-harmful-algal-bloom-detection

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (NEWSLETTER ARTICLE)
Product Published Date: 11/15/2017
Record Last Revised: 12/11/2017
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 338667

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LABORATORY

ATLANTIC ECOLOGY DIVISION

AUTOMATED DATA PROCESSING