Today’s Video of the Day from NASA Goddard describes how satellites are helping scientists monitor recreational sites for potentially harmful algae blooms.
Kate Fickas of Utah State University uses satellite images to make sure the water is safe for people and pets.
“I grew up swimming in the Willamette River in Oregon, and diving in lakes over the summer,” said Fickas. “So it means a lot to me that I’m able to not only help develop algorithms for monitoring cyanobacteria blooms, which is interesting in itself, but to be able to take that next step and keep the public safe, and allow them to safely recreate and enjoy the water the way that I do.”
Blooms occur when the populations of algae, phytoplankton, and cyanobacteria explode in numbers as a result of warm temperatures and excessive nutrients.
Fickas noted that many water bodies in Utah meet those conditions, especially with warming temperatures due to climate change, as well as nutrient runoff from agricultural fields and other sources.
Satellites such as Landsat 8 can detect when a lake changes color due to outbreaks of algae.
Video Credit: NASA Goddard