Using Space Technology to Forecast Red Tide

Harmful algal blooms (HAB’s) occur around the world. Karenia brevis also known as red tide, found off the coast of Florida, contain potent toxins that are harmful to marine organisms and humans. Red tide can create health problems for both animals and humans and cause respiratory problems in humans and marine mammals. It’s also responsible for the loss of millions of dollars from fisheries and tourist industries.

Recently, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), which was chosen by NASA in 2012 to maximize use of the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory, announced a partnership with the Naval Research Lab (NRL) to launch research investigations studying factors that contribute to occurrences of red tide.

Dr. Ruhul Amin of the Naval Research Laboratory has been awarded $250,000 to expand his research on red tide forecasting. The NRL plans to use advanced imaging technology on the International Space Station to develop early red tide detection, quantification and classification algorithms.

Amin is developing technology specifically for the Hyperspectral Imager of the Coastal Ocean sensor that is mounted on the space station. The advanced imaging technology will be used to develop early detection of red tide and other harmful algae blooms.

“Our goal is to develop a general technology that is capable of detecting various algal blooms including brown tides from any HICO imagery including imagery over Indian River Lagoon” Dr. Amin said.

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