NASA-funded collaborative project to study South Florida blue-green algae
University scientists team up with water management agency in a NASA-funded project to improve our understanding of cyanobacteria blooms using state-of-the-art remote sensing, models, and field surveys
ST. PETERSBURG – All eyes are on Florida’s waterways, and addressing Florida’s blue-green algae and water quality has caught the attention of Floridians. Significant blooms of blue-green algae were found on Lake Okeechobee and throughout waterways in several south Florida estuaries in the summer of 2018. And less than 48 hours after taking office in January, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a sweeping executive order to tackle Florida’s water quality challenges and established the state’s first Blue-Green Algae Task Force.
Building on the momentum, scientists from the University of South Florida and Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute are partnering with water resource scientists from the South Florida Water Management District in a new initiative to better understand and forecast blue-green algae blooms in Lake Okeechobee and three South Florida estuaries: the St. Lucie Estuary on the east coast, Caloosahatchee River Estuary on the west coast, and Florida Bay to the south.
“There is a lot of blame going around, and a lot of assumptions about rainfall, discharges from Lake Okeechobee, and algae blooms,” said Dr. Chuanmin Hu of the University of South Florida College of Marine Science (USF CMS). “But at the moment there is no scientific evidence of a connection.”
Hu is leading a team from the USF CMS and Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (FAU Harbor Branch) who will work closely with the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) on a three-year NASA-funded project to improve understanding and forecasting of blue-green algae blooms—specifically the