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Frequent Synoptic Monitoring of Cyanobacterial Harmful Algal Blooms for Potential Prevention of Disease Outbreak
  • Chintan Maniyar,
  • Abhishek Kumar,
  • Deepak Mishra
Chintan Maniyar
University of Georgia

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Abhishek Kumar
University of Massachusetts
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Deepak Mishra
University of Georgia
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Cyanobacterial Harmful Algal Blooms (CyanoHABs) are progressively becoming a major water quality and public health hazard worldwide. Untreated CyanoHABs can severely affect human health due to their toxin producing ability, causing physiological and neurological disorders such as non-alcoholic liver disease, dementia to name a few. Transfer of these cyanotoxins via food-chain only accelerates public health hazards. CyanoHABs can potentially also lead to a decline in aquatic and animal life, hampering recreational activities at waterbodies and ultimately affecting the country’s economy gravely. CyanoHABs require nutrient rich warm aquatic environments to bloom and their proliferation in increasingly warmer areas of the world can be an indirect indicator of global climate change. Many lakes in the United States have been experiencing such CyanoHABs in the summers, which only grow severe every coming year, and this is consistently leading to increased public health implications. A recent study (September, 2021) by the Centre for Disease Control quantified hospital visits with the trend of such CyanoHABs to indeed observe a strong correlation between the two. This necessitates a need for a user-friendly and accessible infrastructure to monitor inland and coastal waterbodies throughout the U.S for such blooms. We present a remote sensing-based approach wrapped in a lucid web-app, “CyanoTRACKER”, which can help detect CyanoHABs on a global level and act as an early warning system, potentially preventing/lessening public health implications. CyanoHABs are dominated by the Phycocyanin pigment, which absorbs sunlight strongly around 620 nm wavelength. Owing to this specific absorption characteristic and the availability of a satellite band at exactly 620 nm, we use the opensource Sentinel-3 OLCI satellite data to detect the presence of CyanoHABs. CyanoTracker is a user-friendly Google Earth Engine dashboard, which is easily accessible via only a browser and an internet connection and allows for a variety of near-daily analysis options such as: a) select any location throughout the world and view satellite image based on date-range of choice, b) click on any pixel in the satellite image and detect presence/absence of cyanobacteria, c) visualize the spatial spread as well as the temporal phenology of an ongoing bloom or a potential incoming bloom. This dashboard is easily accessible to water-managers and in fact, anyone who wishes to use it with minimal training and can effectively serve as an early warning system to CyanoHAB induced disease outbreaks.