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NOAA Harmful Algal Bloom Operational Forecast System (HAB-OFS)

Developmental Harmful Algal Bloom Forecast Projects


Harmful algal bloom (HAB) forecasts are in various stages of development for several U.S. coastal areas. Developing and transitioning mature HAB forecasts from research status to routine and reliable operational products involves partnerships between a variety of offices within NOAA and with external partners.

The National Ocean Service's (NOS) National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), which conducted research leading to the successful operational forecast system in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, is now developing and funding research focused on understanding the biological, environmental, and oceanographic conditions that cause HABs in other coastal U.S. regions. NCCOS and the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS) are presently collaborating with external partners to develop a plan for the operational transition of predictive tools and models that have been developed through management partnerships and research projects, including some of those summarized below.

REGIONAL PROJECTS


Karenia brevis in the western Gulf of Mexico * Transitioned to operations at CO-OPS on September 30, 2010*
In 2006, the Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment (CCMA) began producing routine experimental forecasts for the Texas Coast to assist the Texas Parks and Wildlife HAB monitoring program. These forecasts are based closely on the framework established in the Florida bulletins, which are operational, and are a valuable tool for commercial and recreational fisheries, as well as officials responsible for closing shellfish beds. Historical bulletins are available on the HAB-OFS Bulletin Archive web page. The detection algorithm used for Texas is similar to Florida with an additional correction to account for resuspended chlorophyll. This product was developed as a joint effort between CCMA, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and the University of Texas Marine Science Institute, with partial funding from the Monitoring and Event Response for HABs (MERHAB) Program. For more information, contact NOAA Harmful Algal Bloom Operational Forecast System.

Cyanobacteria in the Great Lakes
The Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment (CCMA) is developing a demonstration system for the detection and monitoring of Cyanobacterial Harmful Algal Blooms (CyanoHABs). This work has resulted in the creation of a new algorithm to detect CyanoHABs in various freshwater environments, primarily in the Laurentian Great Lakes. In the summer of 2008 CCMA first identified a bloom of the potentially toxic cyanobacterium, Microcystis aeroginosa in western Lake Erie. A nowcast and subsequent forecasts were issued to a small subset of the research and management community throughout the summer. The development of this product has relied on funding from the Center for Disease Control, NOAA's Center of Excellence for Great Lakes and Human Health and collaboration with researchers at NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. For more information, contact Michelle Tomlinson.

Alexandrium fundyense in the Gulf of Maine
Alexandrium fundyense, also known as New England Red Tide, produces a potent and potentially lethal neurotoxin that accumulates in shellfish and can cause a syndrome called Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) in humans, necessitating closure of shellfish beds to harvesting to protect human health. Based on more than 10 years of funding from the NOAA Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms (ECOHAB) and Monitoring and Event Response Programs (MERHAB), as well as additional funding from NSF ECOHAB and NSF/NIEHS Oceans and Human Health, a consortium of researchers and state resource managers has developed coupled biophysical models of A. fundyense in the Gulf of Maine. These models have been used to forecast the annual severity of blooms and to provide managers with weekly forecasts of bloom location and magnitude in a test mode. For more information on this effort contact Don Anderson, Dennis McGillicuddy or Rouying He.

Additional Information:
WHOI News Release: "In Computer Models and Seafloor Observations, Researchers See Potential for Significant 2008 "Red Tide" Season"
WHOI Oceanus Article: "Researchers Successfully Forecast 2008 Red Tide- New tool provides early warning of harmful algal bloom along New England coast"
WHOI Oceanus Article: "Building a Computer Model to Forecast Red Tides- A variety of variables goes into the mathematical mix that simulates harmful algal blooms"

Karlodinium veneficum in the Chesapeake Bay
The Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research MERHAB program is funding an effort to develop and implement an operational system that will forecast harmful algal blooms in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The project involves collaboration between several NOAA offices, the University of Maryland, and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The website above displays near-real time predictions of the first harmful algae species targeted, Karlodinium veneficum. For more information on this effort contact Christopher Brown or Marc Suddleson.

Pseudo-nitzschia on the Washington Coast
Species of Pseudo-nitzschia produce the neurotoxin, domoic acid that accumulates in shellfish and can cause a syndrome called Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP) in humans. Humans that consume contaminated shellfish become severely ill and can die, so it is necessary to close affected shellfish beds to protect human health. Along the Washington coast, razor clams and Dungeness crabs are particularly likely to accumulate the toxin. A Pacific Northwest HAB Bulletin has been developed and is being tested for the Washington Pacific coast based on an understanding of HAB dynamics, primarily focused on Pseudo-nitzschia. It was developed with more than 10 years of funding from the NOAA Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms (ECOHAB), the NOAA Monitoring and Event Response Programs (MERHAB), the NSF ECOHAB, the NOAA Oceans and Human Health Initiative, and the CDC. For more information contact Vera Trainer or Barbara Hickey.


Revised: 10/15/2013
NOAA / National Ocean Service
Web site owner: Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services