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Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are increasing in frequency worldwide and pose a significant threat to human and environmental health. The toxic dinoflagellate Karenia brevis is the primary HAB species in the Gulf of Mexico where it appears to be common at low concentrations (less than 1000 cells/L). Accumulations, or blooms (up to 10^6 cells/L), of K. brevis have occurred almost annually off the west coast of Florida for the past 30 years, but occur only sporadically in the western Gulf of Mexico along the Texas coast. This is unexpected, as the eastern and western Gulf of Mexico are roughly similar in terms of temperature, daylight, and nutrients. Differences in the origins and mechanisms that cause blooms along the Texas coast are poorly understood, and represent a large gap in our knowledge of Gulf of Mexico HABs. Without this knowledge, prediction of K. brevis concentrations is nearly impossible, and managers must rely on detection of a well-formed bloom before countermeasures can be taken. The primary product derived from the proposed research will be a rule- based algorithm that will couple a downwelling wind index, satellite imagery, source area indicators, and standard sampling into a HAB bulletin, which will be periodically distributed to the management and research communities detailing the current oceanographic and conditions along the Texas coast. The result will relate the probabillity of a K. brevis bloom along the Texas-Louisiana shelf to the local wind history. This will produce a rule-based analysis of conditions that indicate either the likelihood of K. brevis blooms, the likelihood that a bloom (observed from satellite) is K. brevis, and the likelihood of intensification of the bloom.

Project PI: Robert Hetland/Texas A&M; University

Department of Oceanography Texas A&M; University College Station, TX 77843-3146

Phone: (979) 458-0096

Fax: (979) 845-6331

Email: hetland@tamu.edu

http://pong.tamu.edu/~rob/cv/

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Started: Sep 27, 2010

Last Activity: Jan 04, 2011

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