Our HAB forecasts alert coastal managers to blooms before they cause serious damage. Short-term (once or twice weekly) forecasts identify which blooms are potentially harmful, where they are, how big they are, and where they're likely headed. Longer-term, seasonal forecasts predict the severity of HABs for the bloom season in a particular region.
Early warning provides health officials, environmental managers and water treatment facility operators information to focus their testing to guide beach and shellfish bed closures or water treatment in a more appropriate timeframe. They also allow the seafood and tourism industries to minimize impacts.
HAB forecasts are based on understanding the causes of HABs and how they respond to changing weather and ocean conditions. The other critical component of a HAB forecast is the ability to routinely and remotely detect HABs, their toxins, and environmental conditions that foster blooms and enhance their toxicity.
NOAA conducts and funds the development of HAB forecasts in collaboration with academic, state, and local manager partners. Once pilot forecasts are developed and validated, the forecasting ability is transitioned to operations, often as part of the NOAA HAB Operational Forecasting System (HABOFS). Then, similar to weather forecasts, regional HAB forecasts are issued on a regular basis during the seasons when HABs occur. NCCOS is funding research in support of pilot regional HAB forecasts in the Gulf of Maine (Alexandrium), the Pacific Northwest (Pseudo-nitzscha) including Puget Sound (Alexandrium), and Southern California (Pseudo-nitzschia).
**2015 Early Season Projections for Harmful Algal Bloom Severity in Western Lake Erie**
NOAA researchers, with their partners at Heidelberg University, are initiating early season projections of the seasonal harmful algal bloom (HAB) in western Lake Erie. These bulletins will be updated weekly until the final seasonal forecast is issued in July. In July, the bulletins will change to twice weekly status and short-term forecasts on bloom location, which NOAA has provided for the past six years.
Lake Erie has been plagued by a steady increase of HABs over the past decade. These blooms consist of cyanobacteria or blue-green algae, which are capable of producing toxins that pose a risk to human and animal health, foul coastlines, and impact communities and businesses that depend on the lake. NOAA has issued weekly bulletins for HABs in Lake Erie since 2009 and increased the frequency to twice weekly last summer.
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For other data on Lake Erie HABs, visit the NOAA GLERL website.