Blooms and Buoys: Monitoring Lake Erie from the Ground Up

Earthzine2015 Spring VPS, DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session, Monitoring Water Quality and Hydrology

Category: Monitoring Water Quality and Hydrology

Project Team: Lake Erie Water Resources

Team Location: NASA Ames Research Center ‰ÛÒ Mountain View, California

Buoy readings and satellite data being analyzed to monitor algal blooms in Lake Erie. Image Credit: Lake Erie Water Resources Team


Oliwia Baney

Ase Mitchell

Chippie Kislik


Juan L. Torres-PÌ©rez (Bay Area Environmental Research Institute)

Sherry L. Palacios (Bay Area Environmental Research Institute)

Other Contributors:

Andrew Nguyen


Harmful algal bloom events, or HABs, have increased in Lake Erie and are negatively impacting drinking water supplies as well as fisheries and property values. HAB events also pose a risk to water resources around the world, drawing various stakeholders to take steps toward mitigation efforts and better understand effects on nearby communities. Remote sensing is proving to be a useful tool for HAB detection, and can be applied in areas of the world where in situ data is either inaccessible or extremely costly. To validate the precision of remote sensing in detecting HAB events, we applied two indices to satellite imagery obtained over Lake Erie. The indices were compared against in situ data to assess satellite accuracy statistics. These indices included Floating Algal Index (FAI) and Normalized Difference Turbidity Index (NDTI). Both indices were applied to visual and near-infrared products from NASA’s Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper(TM), Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI), and Terra Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS), as well as data from the Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean (HICO) aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), National Center of Water Quality Research (NCWQR), the University of Toledo, and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative will utilize the methods and end-results from this project to evaluate the potential of applying these indices within Lake Erie and other regions of the world.

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