La conoscenza delle dannose fioriture algali cresce anno dopo anno

Study of harmful algal blooms builds on year-to-year experience

In late March 2014, like stealthy electronic sharks, two underwater gliders began cruising the ocean in and around San Pedro Bay, off Southern California. But instead of looking for a meal of fish or sea lions, these robotic vehicles were looking for signs of microscopic algae. These gliders are just the first of a small menagerie of instruments that scientists will be placing in the ocean over the next month to track harmful algal blooms as part of this year’s spring ECOHAB (Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms) experiment.

This satellite image shows the temperature of the ocean surface in and around San Pedro Bay on April 2, 2014. The purple and blue areas have colder water, possibly due to “upwelling” of cold water near the north end of the bay. The red lines show the courses of underwater gliders. The white crosses labeled “Mack” and “Bruce” indicate the locations of Environmental Sample Processors that are being used in the ECOHAB experiment. (Image: © 2014 MBARI)

2014 marks the third year of the ECOHAB project, which is sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and includes researchers from MBARI; the University of California, Santa Cruz; Moss Landing Marine Laboratories; the University of Southern California; NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science; and NASA.

The short-term goal of the ECOHAB project is to determine what environmental conditions are likely to lead to harmful algal blooms. The long-term goal is to build computer models that will allow researchers to predict when and where blooms are most likely to occur.

This year, the researchers will be building on discoveries made during previous ECOHAB experiments conducted in San Pedro Bay in the spring of 2010 and 2013. These experiments indicated that harmful algal blooms often occured in April. This finding prompted researchers to schedule the 2014 experiment during this month.


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