The variety of HAB species, their broad geographic distribution, and the breadth of their impact on different ecosystem components create complex resource management issues that often require complex, integrative approaches to address them. Ecological forecasts are one type of integrative HAB research product that can assist coastal managers in better managing our resources.
HAB forecasts vary in function and complexity depending on the issue of concern and the data available. Forecasting models can assess HAB probability or project HAB movement (which can affect beach or shellfish closures), or they can be used to identify bloom sources (e.g., seed beds, eddies), “bloom triggers” (e.g., nutrients, water stratification), factors contributing to bloom decline (e.g., predation, water mixing), or factors that control bloom toxicity (e.g., cell density, environmental cues, toxin transfer through the food chain). The most complex HAB forecasting models are built from fundamental knowledge of biological, chemical, and physical dynamics in specific ecosystems and depend upon integration of that knowledge with data from various sources, which can include satellite imagery, monitoring partnerships, and in situ observations.
Examples of NOAA funded research contributing to the development of regional HAB forecasts:
Click here for an overview of harmful algal blooms