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Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems

Pelagic Sargassum spp. provides important habitat (food, shade, shelter) to fish, shrimp, crabs, turtles, and other marine organisms. The macroalgae can also cause nuisance beach accumulations. Our knowledge on Sargassum abundance/distributions and their future trend is limited. The project seeks to fill this knowledge gap to help make management and research decisions and to reduce cost in making these decisions by using the most recent advances in algorithm development and NASA EOS data. We have three objectives: 1) To fill our knowledge gaps on the Sargassum abundance/distributions in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Bight; 2) To improve existing decision making (beach management, Sargassum harvesting, and research planning) by using the new Sargassum data products; 3) To understand whether and how trends in Sargassum abundance/distributions are influenced by climate change. We expect the following outputs: 1) Geo-referenced and time series maps of Sargassum abundance/distributions since 2000; this includes an assessment of accumulations of Sargassum that may be a nuisance to beaches. Products will be provided online in near real-time to assist decision-making; 2) Improved decision making on Sargassum harvesting and beach management; 3) Improved understanding of turtle and fish distributions in relation to Sargassum; 4) Technical reports and publications to facilitate use of NASA products; 5) Increased use of NASA data products for management and research decisions; 6) Reduced cost for research and management planning. The end users of the above products range from Federal and state agencies to educational institutions, including: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC), beach management agencies (e.g., the Galveston Parks Management Board), and private entities (real estate agencies and tourism industry). The project is related to the “Ecological Forecasting” application area (A.40-1), and designed to address the “Ecosystems” (2.2.3, A.40-5) prioritized topic. The significance of this project comes from three aspects: 1. Novelty - there is no data product specifically designed to map Sargassum from space; 2. Need - various user groups have critical need for quantitative and timely information on Sargassum; 3. Impact - NASA ocean color products have been used mainly by researchers in the past. This project will expand the use to a variety of user groups, which range from Federal and state agencies, educational institutions, private industry, to the general public: for example NMFS, FWC, SFMC, Galveston Parks Management Board, realtors, and the tourism industry.

Project PI: Chuanmin Hu/University of South Florida

University of South Florida Institute for Marine Remote Sensing 140 7th Avenue South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 USA

Phone: (727) 553-3987

Email: hu@marine.usf.edu

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Started: Sep 27, 2010

Last Activity: Jan 04, 2011

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