New monitor keeping track of toxic algae

New monitor keeping track of toxic algae

When we get rain like we have had the last couple of weeks, people on the Treasure Coast begin to worry.

Will the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers start discharging water from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie Estuary?

Ed Stout at South River Outfitters in Martin County says it's a concern.

"Big concern because like any business I have to plan months ahead," said Stout.

"Issue with having a lot of rain is it means we get a lot of runoff in Lake Okeechobee," said Jim Sullivan at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute.

He unveiled the SeaPRISM Wednesday.

"We can tell how much algae is in it," said Malcolm McFarland.

Basically, the device will take hourly readings of the water in Lake Okeechobee and send via cell signal to NASA, which will publish data online.

"Useful tool for our monitoring and what controls algal blooms," said Sullivan. "We can go on the website and look at data and say, 'Yeah, there's a lot of algae, so be prepared.'"

Scientists hope they will learn from the device and find a solution to these blooms.

SeaPRISM - water-quality monitoring

Scientists with FAU Harbor Branch are partnering with NASA to learn more about algae levels in Lake Okeechobee through the use of a SeaPRISM, one of NASA’s water-quality monitoring instruments. In advance of deploying the device in the Lake next month, a team tested the SeaPRISM at FAU Harbor Branch’s channel today. SeaPRISMs are above-water radiometers that look at the color of water and use algorithms to determine chlorophyll, turbidity and cyanobacteria levels. “The more information we have and share on what is driving the ecology of these blooms in the lake – why they’re occurring, what’s causing them – the better off we’ll be,” said FAU Harbor Branch Interim Executive Director and project lead Jim Sullivan, Ph.D. “Having access to this data in real time will be an enormous help.”

Posted by FAU Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute on Wednesday, May 30, 2018

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