Algal bloom off the coast of the South West of the UK

Remote Sensing and Aquaculture

Understanding is essential...

The economic impact of harmful algal blooms is significant, estimated in the US to be over $80 million per year in terms of the cost to fisheries, recreation and tourism. The wider socio-economic impacts are equally significant, particularly potential public health implications as a result of toxins contained within the blooms. This one problem alone demonstrates that monitoring of the marine environment is essential to understand what is happening within the ocean and to ensure better management of the ocean itself and its resources.

Remote Sensing offers a cost effective tool for carrying out observations and providing data which is valuable not only for water quality monitoring, aquaculture and fisheries management, but also for marine planning and protection purposes.

Our capability

We can draw upon the wealth of experience and skills of a world-class team of Remote Sensing scientists at PML with access to over 30 years of satellite images, with global coverage, on which they conduct analyses to provide:

+ Early detection of algal blooms to protect aquaculture sites or recreational areas, and classification of harmful algal bloom risk for certain species;

+ Detection and mapping tools for ocean fronts (often biodiversity hotspots), used in helping to plan and define marine protected areas and with potential application in siting offshore renewable energy installations.

An open source web-based Geographic Information System (GIS) tool for visualisation and analysis of geospatial data. For an example of the tools capabilities click here.

Thermal front map figure showing the UK

Simplified thermal front map

An example of a simplified thermal front map for the UK during one month, detected and visualised using novel algorithms developed by PML Applications. The warm and cold side of each front are indicated using red and blue, and the strength of the front by the width of the line.
Seasonal front frequency map figure for the south west of the UK

Seasonal front frequency map

Seasonal front frequency map for SW UK, indicating the percentage of time a front was observed at each location (derived from 30,000 satellite images between 1998 and 2008)
Ocean colour data figure showing the North west of scotland with various colours showing chlorophyll concentration

Harmful algal bloom detection

Ocean colour data used in early-warning system to monitor for harmful algal blooms in NW Scotland: showing unique HAB (Harmful Algal Bloom) risk classification product estimating the likelihood of a certain type of harmful algal bloom.