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NOAA Uses Airplanes for Algal Bloom Prediction in Lake Erie

Dept. of Commerce

Harmful algal bloom in western basin of Lake Erie: August 3, 2018 (Photo credit: Aerial Associates Photography, Inc., Zachary Haslick).

Hyperspectral sensors in airplanes flown over the western basin of Lake Erie collect information on harmful algal blooms (HABs) by measuring wavelengths released from chlorophyll color pigments in the HAB. Flyovers done below the clouds capture images at a higher resolution than satellites, giving researchers accurate, detailed information on bloom concentration, extent, and types of algae present. Drinking water managers use this data to identify the type and location of algal blooms near water municipal intakes. In addition to the hyperspectral images, pilots from Aerodata, Inc. in Ann Arbor, Michigan, capture stunning photographic images of the bloom.

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (NOAA GLERL) and its partners conduct innovative research on the dynamic environments and ecosystems of the Great Lakes and coastal regions to provide information for resource use and management decisions that lead to safe and sustainable ecosystems, ecosystem services, and human communities.

To learn more about NOAA GLERL, visit its laboratory profile on FLC Business.

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