Satellite monitoring of cyanobacterial harmful algal bloom frequency in recreational waters and drinking water sources

Ecological Indicators
By: , and 



Cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (cyanoHAB) cause extensive problems in lakes worldwide, including human and ecological health risks, anoxia and fish kills, and taste and odor problems. CyanoHABs are a particular concern in both recreational waters and drinking water sources because of their dense biomass and the risk of exposure to toxins. Successful cyanoHAB assessment using satellites may provide an indicator for human and ecological health protection. In this study, methods were developed to assess the utility of satellite technology for detecting cyanoHAB frequency of occurrence at locations of potential management interest. The European Space Agency's MEdium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) was evaluated to prepare for the equivalent series of Sentinel-3 Ocean and Land Colour Imagers (OLCI) launched in 2016 as part of the Copernicus program. Based on the 2012 National Lakes Assessment site evaluation guidelines and National Hydrography Dataset, the continental United States contains 275,897 lakes and reservoirs >1 ha in area. Results from this study show that 5.6% of waterbodies were resolvable by satellites with 300 m single-pixel resolution and 0.7% of waterbodies were resolvable when a three by three pixel (3 × 3-pixel) array was applied based on minimum Euclidian distance from shore. Satellite data were spatially joined to U.S. public water surface intake (PWSI) locations, where single-pixel resolution resolved 57% of the PWSI locations and a 3 × 3-pixel array resolved 33% of the PWSI locations. Recreational and drinking water sources in Florida and Ohio were ranked from 2008 through 2011 by cyanoHAB frequency above the World Health Organization’s (WHO) high threshold for risk of 100,000 cells mL−1. The ranking identified waterbodies with values above the WHO high threshold, where Lake Apopka, FL (99.1%) and Grand Lake St. Marys, OH (83%) had the highest observed bloom frequencies per region. The method presented here may indicate locations with high exposure to cyanoHABs and therefore can be used to assist in prioritizing management resources and actions for recreational and drinking water sources.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Satellite monitoring of cyanobacterial harmful algal bloom frequency in recreational waters and drinking water sources
Series title Ecological Indicators
DOI 10.1016/j.ecolind.2017.04.046
Volume 80
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Kansas Water Science Center
Description 12 p.
First page 84
Last page 95
Country United States
State Florida, Ohio
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