Three Big Takeaways: Understanding, Predicting, and Tracking Harmful Algal Blooms

The Current Webinar 40: Understanding, Predicting, and Tracking Harmful Algal Blooms brought together scientists, researchers and outreach professionals the in North Central and Great Lakes Regions to provide a multi-faceted overview of the contemporary work being doing on HABs.  Ranging from predictive tools and potential prevention methods to the process of creating outreach techniques, this webinar focused on the variety of angles researchers and specialists are looking at to help combat the region-wide, and nationwide, issue of harmful algal blooms.  

Miss the webinar? Watch the full recording on our YouTube channel. Don’t have time to watch the recording? Not a problem – here are three big takeaways:

  1. Kristen DeVanna Fussell described how Lake Erie’s shallow water volume, high light penetration, and large amount of surrounding urban and agricultural land use compared to the other four Great Lakes, make it an especially susceptible environment for harmful algal blooms. Fussell described how 70-90% of phosphorus loads from 2002-2013 through the western basin of Lake Erie occurred during roughly 10 storm events per year. Fussell also shared a recent whitepaper she co-authored on strategies to reduce phosphorus by 40%.
  2. Grace Wilkinson’s presentation highlighted the development of research-based, statistical tools that aim to help predict harmful algal blooms before they occur. Wilkinson described how regime shifts, or the changing of one state (clear water) to another (algal-dominated water), are the key to developing prediction tools.  With her team of collaborators from Iowa State and beyond, Wilkinson helped develop theoretical “warning signs” that include a rise in variance and autocorrelation, which, in some test lakes, were able to predict algal blooms weeks in advance.
  3. To offer a different perspective on HABs, Devin Grace Gill highlighted the work she does as a stakeholder engagement specialist, where her work primarily relates to developing outreach tools and systems for a variety of people involved in HAB research.  Gill described her work bridging the gaps between citizens and scientists through science co-production, which connects beneficiaries to the research throughout the research process. Specifically, Gill shared how her research with Lake Erie Anglers was used to make data-driven improvements to the HAB Tracker Forecast.

You can watch the full webinar recording on the Network’s YouTube Channel. For more information on our speakers and the work presented in this webinar, please contact the presenters:

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