Last updated: 26 August 2014

Plan 1, July 12, 2008

1.0 Vision Statement

The vision statement for the Harmful Algal Blooms Integrated Observing System for the Gulf of Mexico is:

To establish a sustained observing system as part of the U.S. IOOS (Integrated Ocean Observing System) that will facilitate and enhance efforts to monitor, manage, and reduce detrimental effects of harmful algal blooms (HABs) on human health and living marine resources (non-human animals and plants) and to mitigate impacts of HABs on coastal communities.

2.0 Terms of Reference

Numerous microalgae have the potential of producing harmful effects in the Gulf of Mexico. The most significant from the perspective of human or animal health are those microalgae that produce toxins. Some microalgae have an impact by being a poor food source or causing mechanical damage to fish gills. Others are concentrated by filter-feeding shellfish which are rendered toxic to human consumers. Still other microalgae can be detrimental to the environment through impacts on the ecosystem (shading of sea grasses, development of hypoxia). The observing system will address those algae that have a direct impact on the environment, including the human component. Of these, the best known and most important in the Gulf of Mexico is Karenia brevis, which is the organism responsible for frequent "Florida red tide" events. However, other species also produce toxins that adversely impact the environment; these are sometimes monitored in the Gulf and also will be considered. While the HABIOS will be designed in such a way as to generally support observing of all harmful algal species, particular emphasis will be placed on observations and impacts of K. brevis, given its recognized importance in various regions in the Gulf of Mexico. In the remainder of this document, aspects of HABIOS specific to K. brevis will be clearly identified as such to distinguish them from more general HAB monitoring capabilities.

The Gulf of Mexico contains multiple existing systems that are operated by state, federal, and local agencies and by researchers for the purpose of monitoring and forecasting harmful algal blooms and oceanographic conditions that influence their frequency, distribution and fate.** These systems already provide information for decisions by public health and resource managers. However, they tend to operate independently of each other so that full advantage of all observations is not achieved. In this regard, both the user communities and managers of these systems have identified critical deficiencies that can be addressed through a more comprehensive and integrated approach that will improve our ability to detect HABs more rapidly and provide more accurate and timely predictions of potential impacts. The objective of this plan is to provide the design for such a system.

** The states have monitoring and management programs for "red tide" and for shellfish safety, and some have additional information for public health and recreation. Federal capabilities include the NOAA operational Harmful Algal Bloom Forecast System (HAB-FS), which provides nowcasts and forecasts of HABs through the HAB Bulletin, and the Harmful Algal Blooms Observing System (HABSOS) which provides integration and dissemination of geographic data relevant to HABs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has the Harmful Algal Bloom-related Illness Surveillance System (HABISS). A coupled federal-state effort involves the Marine Mammal Stranding Networks. The Phytoplankton Monitoring Network has developed a volunteer monitoring network. The various ocean observing systems for the Gulf of Mexico provide a variety of oceanographic measurements including observed and modeled winds, currents, temperature, salinity, waves, and others (links to the various systems are provided at

The plan must include the needed expansion, enhancement, and maintenance of current individual systems into an integrated system of systems that will provide the information needed for managing and mitigating ill effects of harmful algal blooms on living marine resources, human health, and the socioeconomic state of coastal communities. The resultant system must be ‘end-to-end’, meaning that it efficiently links observations (in situ and remotely-sensed), data management and communications, and modeling and analysis for the timely provision of data and information in forms and at rates required by decision makers and other users. Of critical importance to the evolution of such an approach are performance assessments by both system operators and users that are used to improve the HAB Integrated Observing System over time. Although the system does not explicitly include research needed to improve detection and prediction capabilities, performance assessment should include the identification of deficiencies that can be used to determine research priorities and a process by which advances in research and operational capabilities are used to improve its capabilities.

The system must be designed and built in a systematic and efficient manner, and we must be conservative in making decisions to alter or remove existing elements. Step one is to identify the existing capabilities (observations, data management and modeling) that will form the core of the integrated system of systems. At the same time, data providers and end users must work together to identify gaps in needed data and information that would improve the value of the integrated approach for addressing and responding to public and management concerns regarding the health of people, marine organisms, and marine ecosystems. The next step is to systematically enhance the observations, modeling, analyses, and data management and communications so as to fill the gaps in needed information and improve its delivery to users. An ongoing activity is to specify and use system performance metrics and evaluate new research and operational capabilities in order to plan system improvements.

The system design is consistent with design principles in the First IOOS Development Plan and will incorporate the ideas expressed in workshop reports and other documents. Sets of recommendations for observations appropriate and necessary for public health were made at the Workshop on Harmful Algal Blooms Observing System (November-December 2000), the Workshop on Integrating Harmful Algal Bloom Observations into the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (April 2004), the Ocean.US workshop on Public Health Risks: Coastal Observations for Decision Making (January 2006), and the Harmful Algal Bloom Observing System Plan for the Gulf of Mexico Workshop, November 2007. These documents and workshop notes identify important gaps between the ability to rapidly detect and provide timely predictions of HAB events and their potential impacts. This report sets forth a set of objectives and actions that will begin the process of filling these gaps and developing an observing system that can become operational.

3.0 Goals and Objectives

The overarching goal of the HABIOS is to provide information in forms and at rates required by decision makers and the public to manage and mitigate environmental and public health impacts of HABs. This shall be accomplished through improvements in monitoring, data management, data integration, and modeling capabilities that address critical gaps in the existing monitoring, observing, forecasting, and information systems as they are identified.

These critical gaps will be addressed by achieving several objectives:
[Two reviewers suggest that the objectives be shortened.]

(1) Identify stakeholder (user) groups and their needs and preferred delivery systems.

(2) Identify areas where HABs are most likely to occur (based on both past observations and knowledge of environmental conditions associated with an increase in the probability of HAB events) and monitor them on time and space scales needed for rapid detection and response. Areas of concern include shellfish beds, beaches frequented by people, areas most frequented by protected species at risk from HABs, and selected offshore areas where HABs are known to initiate or occur frequently;

(3) Integrate relevant data in consistent and understandable products and formats. Such data include the abundance and distribution of HAB species, their toxin concentrations, environmental parameters influencing abundance and distribution, human health, animal health, living marine resources, and socioeconomic impacts. (Access to human health data will be restricted, but collaborations with appropriate scientists should help ensure data access.)

(4) Provide for timely archival of and easy access to available data on phytoplankton species (including HABs), associated environmental data, and morbidity and mortality events involving marine organisms, and develop methodology for obtaining access to human health data as required;

(5) Track in real time and provide timely forecasts (with error estimates) of the species, location, time-space extent of the bloom, cell counts, and toxin levels and characteristics of HABs as well as HAB-associated human illnesses (via HABISS) and animal morbidity/mortality;

(6) Distribute the information in ways that are timely, meaningful, relevant, and readily accessible to the various management and public communities;

(7) Monitor the effectiveness of the observing system using quantifiable performance metrics that gauge system functionality (e.g., sustained, quality controlled data streams), user satisfaction (e.g., are the data provided in forms and at rates that are most useful to end users), and costs versus benefits;

(8) Identify human health risks from HAB events, living marine resource risks from HAB events, and the environmental conditions epidemiologic studies should take into account as possible risk factors for exposure/development of disease; and

(9) Based on stakeholder input, identify areas of research and operations that will improve the system and prioritize these areas.

To reach these objectives will require interdisciplinary and international collaboration and the development of the necessary workforce, with a particular focus on observing technology and taxonomy.

4.0 Objective-Specific Activities

To achieve these objectives, the observing system will be established and evolve to accomplish the activities stated below. [Two reviewers suggest that the Objectives be repeated here.]

Objective 1

  1. Identify potential user groups, which include: the medical community and departments of health, tourism, beach goers, living marine resource managers, fishing industry, HAB researchers, coastal managers, product providers (e.g., HAB FS (Forecasting System), K-16 educators, media, and the public).
  2. For each stakeholder group identify specific needs and determine their preferred mode(s) of information delivery. Examples of information for delivery include: web sites, email, NOAA weather radio reports, text message, cell phone, kiosk, brochures, posters, and existing outreach mechanisms (e.g., GOMA (Gulf of Mexico Alliance) or GCOOS).

Objective 2

  1. Identify bloom initiation sites and areas of concern for impacts that should be monitored with higher time-space resolution than other areas and that may enhance understanding of bloom initiation and improve forecasting capabilities.
  2. Design decision processes to determine pre-planned and adaptive sampling strategies.
  3. Determine the presence, location, and extent of algal blooms before they have impacted an area of concern (with enhancement and integration of the several current monitoring programs, including state programs, phytoplankton monitoring network, and HAB-FS bulletins).
  4. Monitor with appropriate sampling rates the critical areas of concern, e.g. shellfish areas and recreational beaches, for presence and impact of HABs with appropriate sampling rates.
  5. Determine species and concentration (intensity) of detected algal blooms.
  6. Determine the toxicity levels associated with detected algal blooms. In addition to species identification and cell counts, toxin levels will influence the extent of negative human/ecosystem health and socioeconomic impacts and the need for response and mitigation.

Objective 3

  1. Expand and improve the efficiency of networks for data and information exchange among the responsible local, state, and federal agencies, and in cooperation with Mexican and Caribbean partners. This includes use of IOOS DMAC (Data Management and Communication) standards for data and metadata and enhancement of the HABSOS capability for data management.

Objective 4

  1. Provide secure provision for storage and archival of data and information. Recognize that access to some types of non-aggregated data (including human health data and detailed commercial fishing data) may be restricted (due to privacy issues) and that access may be determined on a case-by-case basis. Thus there is the need to encourage collaboration to ensure access. Storage of human health data will likely be outside the HABIOS.
  2. Ensure that all stored data and information can be discovered and retrieved from archives by machine. Build the system to acknowledge differences in data restrictions.
  3. Provide mirror (backup) storage for data and information.

Objective 5

  1. Produce predictions with uncertainties of the onset of HABs in areas of concern.
  2. Make all monitoring data for sampling locations and bloom characteristics available in a coherent form for operational nowcasts and forecasts. Improve HABSOS capability (or equivalent) to support the HABs forecasting systems such as HAB-FS system.
  3. Link observations and models more effectively through data assimilation or data simulation products, such as observing system simulation experiments (OSSEs) that can be used to improve the cost-effectiveness of monitoring.
  4. Have necessary circulation output from models available in standard formats for nowcasts and forecasts.
  5. Implement location uncertainty statistics into forecast models, with information based on both location uncertainty and the use of ensemble models for modeling uncertainty.

Objective 6

  1. Provide all pertinent information, including forecasts with error estimates, in a timely and secure manner, to appropriate local, state, and regional coastal managers, using IOOS DMAC standards and protocols.
  2. Develop educational materials for system operators, coastal managers, educators, and HABs researchers to increase understanding and value of the products of the HABIOS.
  3. Develop outreac materials for identified stakeholders and media in formats specified by the user group and to the general public to increase understanding, usefulness, and value of the HABIOS.

Objective 7

  1. Determine and use performance metrics for the efficacy of observing system functions (the efficiency of linking observations, DMAC, and modeling for sustained product delivery using information provided by data providers and modelers).
  2. Determine and implement performance metrics for how well the information provided meets the needs of user groups (user satisfaction), with information from users.
  3. Establish a users group and have periodic feedback reviews of the system.
  4. Regularly review the HABIOS using quantitative performance metrics.

Objective 8

  1. Identify human health risks from HABs.
  2. Identify human health data bases.
  3. Identify living resource data bases.
  4. Support development of human disease surveillance, e.g. HABISS, vibrio wound infections, waterborne disease outbreaks.
  5. Include environmental data as risk factors in human epidemiology studies.
  6. Assess how to incorporate other health-related data into the process (from identifying health risks to modeling), including poison information center calls, local physician networks, hospital admissions, emergency room visits, etc.
  7. Assess how to involve veterinarians in relevant companion animal disease surveillance.
  8. Use links for abstracting limited human health data to non-health databases and import relevant environmental data to health-based databases.
  9. Coordinate epidemiological studies (animal and human) with HABs observations and associated environmental conditions.
  10. Create a model to integrate human health or living marine resource health and environmental data.

Objective 9

  1. Based on user needs and current operational capabilities identify research priorities for species identification and enumeration; measurements of toxicity; measurements of physical, chemical and biological variables made synoptically in time and space and with sufficient resolution to improve predictive capability.
  2. Identify research priorities for improving data assimilation techniques and numerical model predictions.
  3. Identify research priorities for improving interoperability among contributing systems and components (e.g., the establishment of standards and protocols for measurements and data integration or fusion).

5.0 Implementation I: Observations and Models

The development of an integrated observing system that addresses multiple goals, a variety of data needs, and multiple impacts must consider the range of HAB occurrences with regard to specific species and their toxin production or potential for toxin production, characteristics of bloom formation and transport, routine and ‘event’ driven observations, and data necessary to populate and verify multiple models. To meet management needs for rapid HAB detection and response, and HAB prediction, prevention, control, and mitigation, the monitoring and modeling capabilities of the HABIOS should strive to:

  • detect and quantify a broad range of HAB types across the region. HABs should be considered a ‘moving target’, and novel occurrences or anomalous distributions (i.e., new introductions) of HABs should be expected (e.g., brown tide in Texas). There are currently known HABs in the Gulf of Mexico that threaten human health and living resources, such as Karenia brevis and a series of toxic cyanobacteria. Other HABs known to cause problems elsewhere also occur frequently across regions of the Gulf of Mexico, such as Pseudo-nitzschia, additional dinoflagellates, and raphidophytes. The types of observations and models proposed for an observing system must remain flexible to changes in the HAB conditions of regions around the Gulf.
  • implement regional specificity in monitoring and modeling approaches to maximize cost-effectiveness and operation efficiency. Regional differences in monitoring approaches are expected in the use of cost-prohibitive technologies such as the BreveBuster or genetic probe analyses. The HABIOS should take into account the needs of different regions across the Gulf of Mexico and within specific water bodies (e.g., upper estuary, lower estuary, shorelines, and offshore waters). It is essential that observations and models be developed by multiple stakeholders and users of the information, and aspects such as monitoring and modeling should be developed concurrently.

Existing observations and models are not adequate to address the system requirements listed above. This may be due to a lack of technologically advanced observing tools, insufficient number and distribution of observation systems and sites, inadequate coverage of the range of observations from species counts to emergency room visits for respiratory problems, and lack of appropriate models. All these needs cannot be addressed at once. Steps towards a fully implemented observing system are to identify existing assets including current and potential technology, information needs for multiple users, initial steps towards populating an observing system, and a timed, phased and prioritized plan. The eventual observing system will inevitably be driven by regional needs, costs, and technologies.

5.1 In situ observations

5.1.1 State monitoring

Key components of the in situ measurements and surveillance should include regular observations for bacteria and toxin-producing HABs on beaches, shellfish beds, and other water bodies of HABs concern in the coastal zone. Other key areas for measurements and surveillance are fish kills, animal morbidities and mortalities, and human health.

Each U.S. state has a similar shellfish monitoring program driven by the Food and Drug Administration and the National Shellfish Sanitation Program regulations and use EPA’s BEACH sites for determination of swimming advisories. These programs are intended primarily for bacteria, Enterococcus and fecal coliforms, but states also monitor for toxin producing HABs and their toxins. The target organism for most monitoring is Karenia brevis, but some states (e.g., Alabama. Florida, and Mississippi) do counts for all dinoflagellates, raphidophytes, and Pseudo-nitzschia). There are routine sites and sampling frequencies for each state, but there is also event driven monitoring.

The states of Mexico have routine monthly monitoring of water bodies at specified locations (mostly near population centers) for bacteria and HABs. The states conduct shellfish monitoring with products from the seafood markets. If a sample (water or shellfish) is found to be toxic, an event response study to better identify the location and organisms is conducted with aerial surveys and water samples taken by naval ships. Results are reported to the health department [need the official name here], and public notices are posted for shellfish contamination, beach advisories, and in some cases beach closures.

The details of state agency monitoring programs are in Appendix 1.

Efforts are underway within the Water Quality Team of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) to develop an interstate agreement on standard collection methods and sample protocols for analyses.

Standard protocols are needed for
– chlorophyll a measurements
– taxon specific procedures for chain of custody, collection, preservation, and enumeration of HAB species.
– mandated thresholds for non-Karenia HABs that are a problem, such as Chattonella, Pseudo-nitzschia, Alexandrium, Dinophysis, toxic cyanobacteria, and others. U.S. action levels for toxins in shellfish tissue for some HAB species (e.g., K. brevis, Pyrodinium bahamense, Dinophysis spp.) exist, but not for other species (e.g., cyanobacteria). Only K. brevis has cell concentrations established for actionable management decisions.

In lieu of standard protocols, the relevant state agencies should compare measurements made according to their agency with those of other states. For example, an inter-state comparison for determination of chlorophyll a can be conducted to determine the level of similarity of results. Such a comparison is currently being undertaken the auspices of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance. Additional workshops can be held to optimize protocols for sampling and detecting specific HAB organisms.

The GOMA is seen as a mechanism for these inter-state activities and the force behind moving towards standardization.

Standardization is a first step towards optimizing sampling schemes, but additional human resources are necessary to provide the level of sample processing that is necessary to adequately monitor HABs. Funding is necessary for the training of personnel to collect and accurately identify HABs. GOMA is a mechanism for training workshops for agency personnel. In the long-term, high end technology that can count, image and identify HAB organisms will increase the efficiency and accuracy of counts. Even with better instrumentation, for regulatory purposes microscope verification is required for K. brevis, there will be a continued need for trained personnel.

In addition to identification protocols, there is a need to optimize toxin assays for performance and affordability. Technology-based solutions will increase the efficiency and accuracy of toxin detection, which better protects the public from disease and illness and living resources from negative impacts.

There also is the need for in situ instrumentation that would help identify the potential for a bloom of a HAB via chlorophyll biomass. Deployment of optical instrumentation for chlorophyll fluorescence detection (see instrumentation section) is one potential method for identifying a bloom and initiating an event response. In the same way that chlorophyll anomalies can be detected from a series of satellite imagery, an in situ instrument can identify an increase in phytoplankton biomass. Real-time data relay would optimize field sampling for potential HABs. While not the same as a chlorophyll detector, the BreveBuster can provide an early warning by measuring indicators of high numbers of a few species and initiate an event response.

5.1.2 Volunteer-based efforts

Volunteer-based sampling and surveillance networks expand the states’ monitoring efforts by gaining more observations than a limited number of state personnel can and expanding observations to locations where state agencies do not sample. The usefulness and quality of the observations depends on the protocols of the various programs. A volunteer generated sample identification and count could not be used for regulatory purposes. These efforts do, however, provide valuable

  • ‘first alert’ information that can be subsequently investigated,
  • additional knowledge of the distribution of harmful algae,
  • phytoplankton community data for regions that would not be available otherwise, and
  • outreach and education tools for phytoplankton ecology and HAB awareness.

A limitation of these programs is the number of agency-supported personnel that are required for some steps in the process, but this is the same limitation for state agency programs.

Volunteer programs include the Plankton Monitoring Network (PMN) organized by NOAA’s Holling’s Marine Laboratory of the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, Charleston, SC) and the Florida Volunteer Offshore Sampling Program run by the state of Florida.

The PMN was established as an outreach program to unite volunteers and scientists in monitoring marine phytoplankton community and harmful algal blooms. Objectives are to create a comprehensive list of marine phytoplankton and potentially harmful algal species, identify trends and hot spots (times and places where HABs are more likely to occur), and increase public awareness of phytoplankton and HABs through education and outreach. The network uses trained volunteers to collect water by plankton net and identify phytoplankton by microscopy. Rough count estimates are made of relatively abundant phytoplankton or recognized harmful algal species, and these samples are sent to the Holling’s Marine Laboratory for verification of identity. The data are not quantitative, and smaller HABs, including an unknown percentage of Karenia brevis cells, will not be captured by the 20-µm plankton net.

Volunteer groups measure the abundance of 36 different taxa of phytoplankton as well as salinity and temperature. Efforts are underway to obtain probes to measure dissolved oxygen, pH, and nutrients. Each group monitors at least twice a month and most measure weekly. Sampling is along the coast, mainly along piers and docks and in places of historical HAB outbreaks. [[NCDDC has developed an on-line data entry tool which allows data to flow to NCCOS where it uploaded to an internet map service (IMS). Personnel at NCDDC plan to "move" the volunteer data into the HABSOS database instantaneously and without problems because they host both databases. The data flow, transfer, and access mentioned here in not clear.]]

There are 25 PMN groups in Texas and seven in Alabama. Alabama has modified the standard PMN approach by requiring a scientist to accompany the volunteers during sampling and analysis. This can improve the reliability of identification data, but requires significant people hours. Volunteer monitoring can help guide regulatory monitoring efforts.

For more information, go to

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) maintains a Florida Volunteer Offshore Red Tide Sampling Program (, in which volunteers (stakeholders with HAB interests and offshore access, such as charter fishermen and Coast Guard Auxiliary Units) assist the state with K. brevis monitoring efforts by collecting and providing water samples to the state for analysis. Water is collected by volunteers both at defined monitoring sites and in response to events, primarily at offshore sites difficult for FWRI scientists to access. Samples are transported to FWRI within 1-2 days, where they are enumerated for more than 70 HAB species. These data are included in biweekly state HAB reports, which also include data and results from samples provided by subcontractors as well as state and local entities which provide water samples to FWRI as part of various ongoing coastal monitoring programs. All monitoring data is entered into the Florida HAB historical data base and provided to Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences (FDACS) for commercial shellfish management decisions, to interested state and county agencies, to NOAA for ground truthing of the NOAA HAB Bulletin, and to HABSOS for inclusion in HAB databases. The Florida Department of Health, CDC (Center for Disease Control) and public and private partners have also established a linked network of public health information coupled with exposure and disease surveillance on Florida red tide. State red tide monitoring information is linked to the South Florida Poison Information Center Hotline (888 232 8635) which provides 24 hour health information on HAB related health and safety concerns in multiple languages. The Hotline also reports cases to the Department of Health [[state, U.S.?]] as part of ongoing harmful algal bloom surveillance. [[What can be said here about a human surveillance (toxic hotline)?]]

Florida also maintains several hotlines for the purposes of accessing Florida regional red tide status reports (866-300-9399 or outside Florida 727-552-2448) and reporting HAB impacts, including a fish kill hotline (800-636-0511) to report fish kills, diseased fish, or fish with other abnormalities, a Wildlife alert hotline (888-404-3922) for reporting wildlife in distress from HABs. All calls are entered into a database and investigated for appropriate followup.

The Oyster Sentinel program ( is supported by private funds and the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife, and uses volunteers to sample oysters at 90 sites (50 routinely sampled) from Charlotte Harbor to Lower Laguna Madre. The oysters are analyzed for Perkinsus marinus, a protozoan parasite that causes Dermo, a fatal disease of oysters. The incidence of the disease is used as a bioindicator of the freshwater requirements of estuaries and overall estuarine health.

The relevant aspects of these volunteer networks should be expanded into a coordinated and systematic network for all Gulf of Mexico states.

5.1.3 Private and research-based efforts

Private organizations and academic and research institutions also collect data on phytoplankton community composition, distribution, toxin levels and general ecology. Depending on the funding source and type of data collected, many of these data (with required metadata) are submitted to centralized archival systems, such as NOAA’s NODC. These data, where relevant, provide additional information on phytoplankton ecology, including noxious and harmful species. Most of these programs are funded based on competitive research awards and are not long-term commitments to monitoring.

5.1.4 Observations from moorings and autonomous underwater vehicles

Routine, real-time in situ measurements are needed, especially in locations that are known to have frequent HAB events. These include both measurements of environmental parameters (physical, water chemistry, temperature, salinity, etc.) and biological parameters, including the abundance of HAB species and toxin levels. HAB and toxin identifications

Light microscopy is sufficient for identification and enumeration of the majority of HAB species in the Gulf of Mexico. For selected genera, e.g., Pseudo-nitzschia, toxic species are difficult to distinguish from non-toxic species under light microscopy and therefore may require further examination with electron microscopy or molecular methods. These identifications are time consuming, expensive, require expertise, and are not real-time. Therefore the development of rapid, accurate and simple detection and quantification methods for harmful algal cells, as well as for their discrimination from morphologically similar species, are necessary for monitoring efforts. Besides microscopy, these detection methods can include a variety of optical, satellite and molecular techniques. Method development, intercomparisons, and assessments for appropriate management uses for each HAB species is needed for each of these methods. Proven and emerging technology, such as described below, can be placed on platforms, moored buoys or autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) or incorporated into a laboratory setting.

Molecular techniques are helpful when a) taxonomic expertise is not available and b) a rapid throughput of samples is required. A variety of molecular based techniques are under development for HAB species, including whole cell analyses (e.g. Fluorescence in situ hybridization [FISH] Assays) and extracted DNA assays (e.g., Sandwich Hybridization Assays). Real-time PCR (polymerase chain reaction) assays have potential, but require extensive development to provide quantitative results.

Optical detection methods include fluoresence and image based systems. Pigment based systems include HPLC for detection of HAB specific pigments (e.g., gyroxanthin di-ester in Karenia species). Most imaging systems are based on flow cytometry, which count, examine and image microscopic particles suspended in a stream of fluid (e.g. the Imaging Flow CytoBot and FlowCAM).

A variety of toxin detection methods are available for HABs (e.g., fish and mouse bioassays, HPLC analysis, LC-MS analysis and ELISA). Mass spectrometry is required for confirmation of toxin identity, however ELISA based assays are the most promising assays under development and assessment for rapid
assessment and throughput. Ancillary environmental data

As much environmental data (see Table 1) as possible should be collected to define the system in which the HAB events occur, including meteorological and oceanographic data that provides for modeling, prediction and forecasting.

Table 1. Examples of probes and instrumentation; these may be placed on platforms, moored buoys, or autonomous underwater vehilces (AUVs).
Environmental Parameter Example
Wave height  
Current Teledyne ADCP
Temperature YSI sonde etc.
Salinity (conductivity) YSI sonde etc.
pH YSI sonde etc.
Dissolved oxygen (electrode or optrode) YSI sonde etc.
Ocean Optics
CDOM fluorescence YSI sonde etc.
Turbidity YSI sonde etc.
Particle size Sequoia LISST
Irradiance or reflectance Satlantic OCR or TSRB
Single-channel beam c
Multi-channel a, b
Hyperspectral a
WETLabs C-Star
WETLabs ac-9
Kirkpatrick BreveBuster
Nutrient (optical and wet chemistry) Satlantic ISUS
Envirotech NAS-3X
Bulk Biological Parameter Example
Active fluorescence (single-channel Chl or phycobilin) Turner Designs Cyclops
Active fluorescence (multi-channel excitation; detection of Chl Fl) Moldaenke Fluoroprobe, Walz PhytoPAM
Variable fluorescence (Fv/Fm) Chelsea Fastracka
Sub-assemblage Biological Parameter Example
Imaging flow cytometry FlowCam, FlowCytobot
Gene probes Scholin ESP

5.2 Monitoring Program Design

A sampling scheme for the Gulf of Mexico can provide a general plan for the overall region, but the exact design for a region will depend on the current occurrence of HAB events and the potential for emerging HAB conditions. For example, it is obvious that Karenia brevis blooms are a widely distributed and recurring event on the western Florida shelf, the south Texas coast, and along regions of the Mexican coast. Monitoring programs there would differ from areas where Pseudo-nitzschia blooms develop or where toxic cyanobacteria develop in the upper parts of estuaries.

The concept of ‘site’ is also variable across the Gulf of Mexico and depends on the type of HAB bloom and the mechanisms of monitoring. A ‘site’ can be an instrumented array, an AUV track, a location where water samples are collected, or a region that can be imaged by remote sensing. The type and number of ‘sites’ will depend on whether the intent is to maintain background information and to develop an alert of a bloom initiation or perhaps to clearly define the extent of a bloom and its progression in development.

5.2.1 Site selection

Ideally in the next two decades, there should be a population of high technology platforms from the Yucatan to the Florida Keys. Fixed point measurements for only environmental parameters just as a part of the HABIOS is likely cost prohibitive. A simpler, but still valuable beginning would be the placement of instrumentation on all existing assets. The initial addition would be chlorophyll fluorescence detectors which could be added easily to existing assets. Existing assets are in place as part of NOAA’s National Water Level Network and National Data Buoy Center, U.S. Geological Survey, the Texas General Land Office’s Texas Automated Buoy System, LSU’s WAVCIS sites (some already instrumented with water chemistry, fluorescence and dissolved oxygen), LUMCON’s Environmental Monitoring System, NERR sites, Florida COMPS buoy system, and state agency instrument deployments, many of which provide real or near-real time observations.

Other existing assets are HF (high frequency) radar sites for measurement of surface currents and, for some types of radars, surface waves. As a part of IOOS, plans are being made to populate the U.S. coasts with HF radar systems for continuous, real-time measurements of near shore surface currents. In particular, GCOOS is developing a plan, starting with integration of current HF radar assets in the Gulf, for an interoperable suite of radars covering the near shore regions of U.S. coastal waters.

Eventually HABIOS would need to extend beyond existing assets and strategically place HAB specific platforms (moored, buoys, profilers). An important criterion should be that there is some history of HAB events in the area. While HABs have been reported from most of the coastline of the Gulf, the intensity of effort should be appropriate to the likelihood of HAB events.

Selection of sites is often a result of optimizing information, logistical ease, or identification of areas where there are likely to be problems, e.g., mouths of estuaries, on bridges or near aquaculture facilities. Offshore deployments have significant logistical problems for access, power, telemetry, etc. When selecting fixed sites or glider paths, one criterion that needs to be considered is asset protection.

5.2.2 Number of sites

The spatial distribution of monitoring sites is highly dependent on the nature of the HAB history, frequency and distribution of HABs, and emerging HAB issues—all of which vary by region around the Gulf of Mexico.

For HABs that cover large areas, such as K. brevis, systematic sampling during an event is required. For some blooms, this may be adaptive; a bloom extent or presence may be indicated from satellite imagery and moorings, and the exact bounds need to be identified, particularly for modeling purposes.

The spatial distribution of a HAB is a key part of a nowcast or forecast, and required to initialize transport models. Location data from a variety of sources is interpreted to create the HAB Field, and the quality of the field is limited by the resolution of the available data. In situ and ground-based samples are necessary.

For example, the current implementation effort along the west Florida coast from Tampa Bay to Naples aims to deploy 10 fixed detectors (about 20 km spacing along the 10-m isobath) to track movement along the coast. Four additional detectors are located near two shellfish farms in the Charlotte Harbor area. Because Florida HAB events most often initiate 15 to 40 km offshore, the state is increasing their HAB detector-equipped fleet of AUVs to five units so they can have two AUVs continuously sampling offshore waters.

While Florida’s current Karenia monitoring effort is extensive, the minimum resolution of determining bloom presence (with a minimum of high, medium, low concentrations) by satellite along and near the coast is 10 km·d-1 (one sample every 10 km on each day). Areas with critical public health concerns may require 1-4 km·d-1. The current combination of satellite and cell counts can identify general areas of HABs, but cannot provide details for the coast at resolutions better than 10-50 km·d-1. It is critical that during an event, the sampling is sufficiently systematic to confirm where a bloom is not present, as much as where it is.

Respiratory irritation requires equivalent measurement resolution (better than 10 km·d-1 and 1-4 km·d-1 in critical public health areas). These data are essential for validation of forecasts of respiratory irritation.

Fluorometer-equipped AUVs would be an ideal mechanism for increasing the number of ‘sites’ that can provide information on general phytoplankton ecology and information that could lead to a HAB event. AUVs also have the advantage of providing chlorophyll data that is not in view of satellites either due to depth or weather. The spatial distribution of AUVs would depend on the type of AUV and length of coastline. For instance, a 200 km coastline would require three of the smaller propeller driven AUVs to be able to respond to gaps in satellite coverage.

For fully equipped HAB and associated environmental parameter instrumented sites, a preliminary count for such needed assets is: Florida add 5 or 6 to existing 5 or 6, Alabama 1, Mississippi 2, Louisiana 3, Texas 6, Tamaulipas 2, Vera Cruz 2, Tabasco 1, Campeche 2, and Yucatan 1.

5.2.3 Suite of measurements

Besides the obvious need for taxon specific identification and enumeration of HABs and toxins, there are several environmental parameters that are necessary for a complete package that addresses bloom initiation, bloom distribution, and bloom movements. These data are also critical for modeling efforts. For instance, because the source of Karenia brevis blooms off the Florida panhandle is advection of bloom waters from the southwestern Florida coast, the need for meteorological and physical oceanographic measurements are critical for predicting where the bloom may eventually move. Ancillary data concerning nutrients, light fields, temperature and salinity also support better understanding of bloom initiation and maintenance for ecosystem-level models. The list of moored instrumentation (Table 1) is a guide for the potential ancillary data.

5.2.4 Reporting requirements

Real-time (or near real-time) data are essential due to the dynamic nature of HABs. Some of the ancillary data should also be provided real time, for example currents. Other instrumentation may be recording the ancillary data for eventual downloading and use in models and development of forecasting capabilities.

5.2.5 Logistics

In design of monitoring systems, particularly deployed instrumentation, the logistical needs of deployment, servicing, calibration and recovery of data need to be considered. The cost of the instrumentation and the eventual platform (mooring, buoy, etc.) is a small portion of the overall cost. Maintenance of the system requires full attention and quality technological support.

5.3 Remotely Sensed Observations

Remotely sensed observations used for routine detection and monitoring of HABs are currently satellite-based. Satellites provide ocean color (i.e., water-leaving radiance) and sea-surface temperature that have been used either to identify oceanographic features linked to HABs or signatures of HABs themselves. In particular, the calibrated ocean color sensors, the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS), are used to identify optical features that are distinctive of Karenia brevis blooms. Unusual blooms of other algae may be found under certain conditions, although resolution and spectral bands limit the value of satellites for HABs in many Gulf estuaries.

For SST, the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) and the MODIS sensor provide the best data. Both of these are 1 kilometer data sets, and processed with standard algorithms, with routine validation by NOAA and NASA. There are normally two AVHRR sensors operating, and currently MODIS is working on two satellites; the combination provides up to eight passes per day.

SeaWiFS and MODIS 1-km field-of-view data are the best available for working with satellite ocean color. MODIS also has 500 m and 250 m bands that can be used to provide observations at higher spatial resolution, and these products needs to become part of the standard capability and merged with the 1 km data to ensure continuity at the coast and in estuaries. Other sensors that provide data of potential value include the Indian Ocean Color Monitor (OCM) and the European Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS). These are standard ocean color sensors, but the calibration of these sensors is not as well developed as for SeaWiFS and MODIS. Furthermore, strategies are needed for integrating ocean color data from multiple sensors with differing band characteristics and performance. Currently, only MERIS 1 km data can be accessed, although efforts are underway to make 300 m data available.

While satellite observations can aid in detection and monitoring of HABs, it is important to note that the information provided by satellites is not specific to HABs. As an example, the HAB Forecast System uses a temporal anomaly approach to locate and track blooms. Using a set of rules based on the environmental conditions, prior knowledge of bloom events in specific regions, combined with information from field observations, the blooms can be identified as to type, specifically Karenia brevis, a non-harmful bloom, or other optical feature. In addition to the anomaly approach, other satellite methods for tracking HABs have been utilized with some success. These include approaches that examine backscattering to chlorophyll a ratios, RGB (red green blue) composite images, and MODIS fluorescence. The state of Florida is currently testing the utility of the backscatter approach combined with daily MODIS imagery to identify and track Karenia and Trichodesmium specific blooms in Florida coastal waters.

The use of sensors on board aircraft for monitoring and assessment of HABs are available and should become operational as part of the HABIOS. Aircraft-borne sensors can provide high spatial and spectral resolution, and can sample on cloudy days. At present, aircraft observations are used for spotting blooms, but not for quantitative analysis. With the application of high spectral resolution radiometry, discrimination of phytoplankton from other constituents in optically complex coastal waters is more feasible. Types of aircraft-based sensor observations include radiometry (getting a line of measurements) as well as imagery (acquiring an array of pixels each containing spectral data that can be used to form an image).

Both federal and university-based facilities downlink and/or process satellite data that are useful for HAB detection and tracking. NOAA CoastWatch program (and others) provide standard products, and experimental products are produced by several university and research laboratories (e.g., the Naval Research Laboratory at Stennis Space Center).

Although the HABIOS must depend on the availability of satellite data as determined by national priorities (e.g., the National Research Council Decadal Survey), the GCOOS Regional Association should weigh in on priorities for improving satellite-based remote sensing capabilities that will serve regional needs and be consistent with NASA and NOAA mission priorities. IOOS requirements for HABs and key environmental parameters are only partially addressed by existing and planned satellite missions for several reasons. Those that are particularly significant for elucidating HAB dynamics and for early detection of HABs are outlined in the background paper prepared by Thomas Malone and provided for the GCOOS HABs Observing Plan Workshop (14-16 November 2007).

5.4 Adaptive Observations

Adaptive observations are triggered by detection of conditions that are likely to lead to a bloom (combination of environmental factors that favor the development of a K. brevis patch and/or a Trichodesmium bloom), by detection of a bloom indicator (e.g., pigment signatures detected bio-optically from AUVs and/or ocean color images from satellite sensors), and/or by direct measurements of K. brevis abundance. Adaptive sampling increases the time-space resolution of observations in the domain where a bloom is likely to occur or is occurring depending on what triggers adaptive sampling and the objectives (Table 2). Note that adaptive observations may be initiated with any one of the three schemes or may involve phased implementation of schemes (1), (2) and (3), respectively. Adaptive observations could include a modeling strategy that could be adjusted in response to events.


Table 2. Examples
of three adaptive sampling schemes, each with a different
objective. The schemes could be implemented sequentially.
Scheme (3) would be implemented only after (2).
Trigger Objective Adaptive Sampling Scheme
(1) Environmental conditions favorable for a bloom and/or a Trichodesmium bloom Weekly nowcasts of where and when a bloom is likely to occur during late summer-fall Monitor key environmental variables and phytoplankton species composition daily in the targeted area in 3-D until a bloom occurs or conditions change to unfavorable.

AUVs, mobile moorings, ship-based sampling

(2) Detection of a chlorophyll-a patch Validate the indicator & determine patch size

An alert giving the location and extent of a new bloom followed by daily nowcasts of location and extent

One time, ship-based survey of the patch in 3-D to confirm the presence of a HAB species & estimate patch size; microscopic analysis and/or molecular probes

Aircraft-based remote surveys of the patch domain (using ocean-color sensors similar to the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor)

(3) Validation that the chlorophyll-a patch is caused by K. brevis Daily nowcasts of bloom status (growing or dissipating) & toxicity (low, moderate, high); 2-3 day forecasts the patch’s trajectory updated daily Monitor patch in 3-D at 2-day intervals to estimate abundance and determine toxin levels per cell.

AUVs, mobile moorings, ship-based sampling, aircraft-based remote surveys of the patch domain (using ocean-color sensors similar to the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor)

5.5 Models

5.5.1 Determine the critical data and information requirements for modeling, forecasting, and validation, and inventory existing data systems, including state, federal, local, research and Mexican Navy for their ability to provide data for models and forecasts.

  • Inventory environmental parameters required for forecasting HABs.
  • Inventory the environmental parameters specific to forecasting human exposure and effects.
  • Inventory the environmental parameters specific to forecasting animal exposure and effects.

5.5.2 Track and forecast (with error estimates) the location and characteristics HABs.

  • Determine areas of greatest need for HAB forecasts and the minimum accuracy requirements.
  • Make circulation output from models available in common standard formats for nowcasts and forecasts
  • Link observations and models more effectively through data assimilation. Develop and implement data assimilation techniques and associated standards for improving numerical model nowcasts and forecasts of HAB events. The observations, models, and forecasts should strive to be inclusive of human and animal health effects.
  • Produce predictions with associated uncertainties of the onset of HABs in areas of concern, for example by expanding and improving the current HAB-FS with the use of other deterministic, probabilistic and heuristic models.
  • Implement location uncertainty statistics into forecast models, with information based on both location uncertainty and the use of ensemble models for modeling uncertainty

5.5.3 Validate forecasts (improving on the current HAB-FS validation) and relevant models, both operationally and retrospectively.

6.0 Implementation II: Data Management, Communications, and Performance Metrics

6.1 Consistency with IOOS DMAC standards

This should be done as part of the GCOOS DMAC effort consistent with Ocean.US DMAC plans and the IOOS Data Integration Framework. The following are priorities for HABIOS:

  • Inventory current data transfer, formats, databases and archives involved in data transfer including those used by the HAB-FS, HABSOS, and states.
  • Perform a comparison between elements of the system that exist and those that are needed so as to identify gaps in the system.
  • Based on the inventory and gaps, determine a phased strategy for formats, transfer protocols, and databases data integration that builds on existing capabilities to assure the necessary data integration to meet modeling, forecasting, and general user requirements and is consistent with IOOS DMAC requirements. Priorities should be on integration that will meet the most critical user requirements.

6.2 The Regional Data and Information Dissemination Tool: HABSOS

Harmful Algal Blooms Observing System (HABSOS) is a regional, web-based data and information dissemination tool developed by EPA and NOAA and hosted at NOAA’s National Coastal Data Development Center (NCDDC). Enhancements to HABSOS are recommended as part of this HABIOS Plan. Details are given in Appendix 2.

6.3 Performance Metrics:

These should monitor the effectiveness of the system in terms of both system functions (e.g., sustained, quality controlled data streams) and user satisfaction (e.g., are the data provided in forms and at rates that are most useful to decision makers?).

  • Determine and implement performance metrics to assess how efficiently observations, DMAC and modeling are linked for sustained product delivery. These should be monitored by data providers and modelers and should include metrics for observations, distribution, storage and archive (retrospective), and operations of models.
  • Develop and implement performance metrics for how well the information provided meets the needs of user groups (user satisfaction); these are monitored by users
  • Produce a periodic review of the HABIOS observations network using performance metrics.

7.0 Implementation III: Linking Public Health and Living Marine Resources with Ocean Observations

[[In the previous version derived from the November workshop Sections 7 and 8 were basically the same and did not carefully divide Public Health from Living Marine Resources. Accordingly, these sections have been combined. Additional work is needed as noted below.]]

Enhanced physical, chemical, and biological monitoring systems for HABs will provide more accurate and timely data, will improve public health protection and management abilities, and will enhance protection of living marine resources. Coordinating and interfacing these monitoring systems with epidemiological surveillance systems and data on living marine resources will help meet four of the IOOS societal goals, namely: mitigate the effects of natural hazards more effectively, reduce public health risks, protect and restore healthy coastal ecosystems more effectively, and enable the sustained use of ocean and coastal resources.

The HABIOS must inform health responders; while health responders must guide additional sampling strategies for HABIOS. We should look for opportunities to coordinate these systems as epidemiological studies are performed.

[[There needs to be a paragraph specific to living marine resources, and relevant input should be provided for all the bullets below, or develop bullets specific to living marine resources. Marine mammal health experts (and others, such as turtles and birds) should be involved in developing this section. (Teri Rowles, LeAnn Flewelling, Sibel Bargu)]].

7.1 Predicting human and animal health effects is one of the key activities of the HAB Forecast System in the Gulf of Mexico

The HAB Forecast System provides information about potential health impacts associated with confirmed HABs. If health impacts (such as respiratory information) have been reported by volunteers, that information is provided. The publicly available Conditions Report only provides information on verified blooms and their potential health impacts.

7.2 Abstracting human and animal health data from various systems will allow validation of the predictions

Sources of human and animal health data include

  • Near real-time respiratory irritation data collected by lifeguards.
  • Hospital records for emergency room visits and hospital admissions for respiratory irritation
  • Local physician records for reports of asthma exacerbations
  • Calls to the Poison Information Center hotlin
  • Reports collected in the Harmful Algal Bloom-related Illness Surveillance System (HABISS).
  • Admissions to veterinary clinics and/or animal hospitals.
  • Unusual mortality events.
  • Marine Mammal Stranding Network data.

7.3 Actions that address linking observations with human and living resource information include:

Identify databases

  • Human health databases, including the expert contact
  • Veterinary health databases, including the expert contact
  • Living marine resources databases, including the expert contact
  • Experts in human and animal health effects

Support development of human health assessments, such as

  • Human health surveillance activities
  • New epidemiological studies for the definition of HAB-related illnesses
  • Development of case definitions for HAB-related illnesses

Conduct baseline assessments of HAB-related illnesses, and connect environmental and epidemiological databases to improve risk assessment capabilities. This includes surveillance activities.

  • Review existing databases (e.g. Total Maximum Daily Loads) for applicability to assessing changes in public health risks.
  • Foster cooperation and collaboration among research disciplines, e.g., between medical practitioners and ocean scientists
  • Encourage coordination among public health and environmental protection officials, living resource and coastal zone managers, and oceanographers and coastal hydrologists
  • Enhance effective use of the internet and other electronic media to transmit data to public health officials so that they can issue timely warnings to the public

[[Seems there could be more on the living marine resources than what is provided.]]

8.0 Implementation IV: Improving Operational Capabilities through Research

[NOTES: There needs to be an introduction paragraph for this section. It needs to incorporate the following idea: One requirement for improving operational capabilities is that research or other needs should be addressed in annual reviews and assessments of the forecasts. These needs shall also be prioritized based on the annual reviews. There have been previous reports (i.e., HARRNESS) and workshops (Karenia Science Workshop) that include the issues in this section. References to those reports or the prioritization and information from those reports or workshops should be incorporated into this document for consistency. Others say this should not be a repeat of those workshop reports, but rather should reference them.]

8.1 Remote Sensing

The lack of spectral, spatial, and temporal resolution from the available satellite ocean color sensors is a limitation to detecting HABs. Key areas of research for remote sensing of HABs will involve the following:

  • improving the quality of remotely sensed observations through rigorous calibration and validation efforts;
  • developing novel approaches for integration of data from different sensors on different platforms (e.g. aircraft, satellite) and with different spectral, temporal and spatial resolution (e.g., SeaWiFS, MODIS, MERIS, OCM, airborne radiometers);
  • developing an operational capability that is aircraft-based;
  • developing improved sensor technology for future NASA and NOAA missions;
  • exploring the utility of other remotely sensed observations, for example synthetic aperature radar (SAR), which is not sensitive to cloud cover and can provide informatino both night and day on surface featres (surfactants, plumes, wind and wave fields) that may be helpful in tracking HAB phenomena.

Temporal resolution: Multiple images per day will aid in removing the impact of clouds and can be used to discriminate transient signals, such as that associated with tidal oscillations or vertical migration of bloom populations. Improving temporal resolution can be partially achieved by integrating data from multiple existing sensors. However, each satellite has a slightly different band suite and associated sensitivities, and may exhibit biases in retrieved products. So research is needed to determine optimal approaches for effectively and validly combining products from different sensors.

Spatial resolution: Several sensors have high resolution bands, these include OCM and MODIS. Progress on the calibration and integration of these bands with the standard 1-km SeaWiFS and MODIS products is being made, but considerably more work is needed to refine and validate these products. Additionally, MERIS has a high resolution (300 m) mode, but U.S. investigators have had limited access to these data and so data quality remains poorly characterized.

Aircraft-based sensors, either imaging or along-track radiometry, could provide much higher spatial resolution in the critical area within 1-2 km of the shore as well as in estuaries and bays. Algorithm-development and instrument testing are necessary to transition these from occasional research tools to routine operational capabilities.

Spectral resolution: Most of the ocean color satellite sensors have 7-8 potentially useful bands in the visible and near-infrared spectral regions. MERIS has 10 bands, which offers the potential for greater discrimination. Improved spectral resolution may be beneficial for the application of spectral algorithms used to discriminate algal taxa and water constituents (including phytoplankton, colored dissolved organic matter, particulate detritus, suspended particulate matter). This capability is especially important in optically complex coastal waters. Aircraft-borne sensors can provide extremely high resolution, but research is required to achieve significantly improved products in a timely fashion, and to merge the high spectral resolution with the lower resolution on most satellites.

8.2 In Situ Sensing and Field Measurements

There is the need to facilitate technology transfer to improve the health of the public and living marine resources. Develop for example:

  • Cost-effective bio-optical and molecular methods for detecting species and toxins in real-time, and make them widely available.
  • Validated, standardized field methods for rapid detection of toxins in seafood.
  • Validated, standardized field methods for rapid detection of toxins in biological samples.

8.3 Modeling

[It was suggested that this section be replaced by a section written in the context of the HARRNESS report and Karenia conference 2006. The suggestion was to prioritize the required improvements based on those workshops. See alternative comment in notes to previous section.]

Results from models that are components of HABIOS should provide identification of research needs for the improvement of models in HABIOS. Actions to be taken include:

  • Evaluate the impacts of natural and anthropogenic influences (e.g., climate change, nutrient enrichment, harvesting shellfish) on the abundance and distribution of K. brevis and other toxic species;
  • Synthesize diverse measurements into coupled physical-ecosystem models that incorporate species-specific growth, loss and toxin production rates (including the development and improvement of individual-based models of population dynamics and species-specific models that link physical-biological models);
  • Develop food web models for fate and effects of toxins;
  • Establish test beds for model development, validation and skill assessments;
  • Conduct Observing System Simulation Experiments (OSSEs) and Observing System Experiments (OSEs) to evaluate existing and proposed sampling schemes for improving model-based forecast skill and guide adaptive sampling strategies in order to employ an optimal mix of in situ measurements and remote sensing;
  • Develop coupled physical biological models, grids and boundary conditions;
  • Properly couple statistical methods (e.g., data assimilation) with deterministic models to estimate uncertainty;
  • Conduct re-analysis of model outputs and develop climatologies for annual cycles of key environmental variables, HAB species, and phytoplankton species that portend HAB events;
  • Document empirical relationships between K. brevis abundance and distribution and physical-chemical conditions for the development of habitat-domain models;
  • Develop models that predict the location and extent of human and animal health effects, including model-based predictions of long term risk of individual and population exposure to HAB toxins; and
  • Develop models of socioeconomic impacts and costs of mitigation at local and regional scales.

8.4 Health of humans and living marine resources

[[The human health and 8.5 living resources need to be combined as in Sections 7 and 8. Duplicative materials, one just shorter than the other.]]

Research for these aspects of HABIOS include:

  • Epidemiological studies to define chronic sequellae from acute and chronic exposures
  • Epidemiological studies to define adverse health effects from chronic, low-dose exposures
  • Epidemiological studies of sensitive populations
  • Develop risk assessments, e.g., RfD (acute reference doses) need to be developed
  • Epidemiological studies of real-life exposures (mixtures)
  • Clinical studies for treatments
  • Develop methods to mitigate exposure and disease
  • Develop new and validate currently-established action levels for HABs. As examples:
    – 5,000 cell action level for Karenia brevis as it equates to toxin levels, for K. mikimotoi, etc.
    – Determine toxicity of different Karenia species
  • Surveillance studies to define chronic sequellae from acute and chronic exposures
  • Develop models of socio-economic impact

9.0  Implementation V: Information Delivery

[[Seems the HABSOS and Raw Data under it should be in the same font. If these data go to a PI meeting (green oval) what is the result? Does it feed back in somewhere? HAB FC and Analysis under it should probably be in the same size font and FC needs to be spelled out. INFC needs to be spelled out. Seems "Bulletin" should be incorporated with INFC Product and "product" should be capitalized. The "Such as" section is hanging out there and not connected to the figure. MF in the "Such as" needs to be spelled out.]]

One existing tool for dissemination of regional data and information is the HABSOS. It is described briefly in Section 6.2 and recommended improvements are included in Appendix 2.

Another existing source of and delivery mechanism for HAB information is the NOAA HAB Bulletin. The Bulletin provides information on the location, extent, and potential for development or movement of K. brevis blooms in the Gulf of Mexico using satellite imagery, vector winds from buoys, NWS forecasts and field measurements from State agencies,. Conditions are posted on the Web twice a week during a HAB event. More information on the Bulletin and recommendations for improvements are given in Appendix 3.

[Need to add information on (1) Ongoing human health impact capture such as the CDC HABISS SYSTEM and (2) Delivery of information on other HABs]

10.0 Integration

11.0 References

Battelle, 2008. Final Report of Current Karenia brevis Status and Red Tide Data and Information. Prepared for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA/OCPD Contract No. 68-C-03-041, Work Assignments 1-16 and 4-01. July 16, 2008. 50 pp.


Appendix 1: State-supported HAB monitoring

Appendix 1 is available as a PDF document.


Appendix 2: Recommended Improvements to the HABSOS

Appendix 2 is available as a PDF document.


Appendix 3: The NOAA HAB Bulletin and Recommended Improvements

Appendix 3 is available as a PDF document.


Appendix 4: The HAB Forecast System for the Gulf: Recommended Improvements

Appendix 4 is available as a PDF document.


Appendix 5: CDC’s Harmful Algal Bloom-related Illness Survelliance System

Appendix 5 is available as a PDF document.