Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NASA satellites detect ’glow’ of plankton in black waters

31.08.2004


Dark-colored river runoff includes nitrogen and phosphorus, which are used as fertilizers in agriculture. These nutrients cause blooms of marine algae called phytoplankton. During extremely large phytoplankton blooms where the algae is so concentrated the water may appear black, some phytoplankton die, sink to the ocean bottom and are eaten by bacteria. The bacteria consume the algae and deplete oxygen from the water that leads to fish kills.



For the first time, scientists may now detect a phytoplankton bloom in its early stages by looking at its red "glow" under sunlight, due to the unique data from two NASA satellites. According to a study conducted in the Gulf of Mexico, this phenomenon can forewarn fishermen and swimmers about developing cases of red tides that occur within plumes of dark-colored runoff from river and wetlands, sometimes causing "black water" events.

Chuanmin Hu and Frank Muller-Karger, oceanographers at the College of Marine Science of University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, Fla., used fluorescence data from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments aboard both NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites. MODIS detects the glow or phytoplankton fluorescence, from the plant’s chlorophyll. The human eye cannot detect the red fluorescence.


The ability to detect glowing areas of water helps researchers identify whether phytoplankton are present in large dark water patches that form off the coast of Florida. Without these data, it is impossible to differentiate phytoplankton blooms from plumes of dark river runoff that contain few individual phytoplankton cells.

Because colored dissolved organic matter that originates in rivers can absorb similar amounts of blue and green color signals as plants do, traditional satellites that simply measure ocean color cannot distinguish phytoplankton blooms within such patches.

Although satellites cannot directly measure nutrients in lakes, rivers, wetlands and oceans, remote sensing technology measure the quantities of plankton. Scientists can then calculate how much nutrient might be needed to grow those amounts of plankton.

Hu and others used this technique to study the nature and origin of a dark plume event in the fall of 2003 near Charlotte Harbor, off the south Florida coast. Moderate concentrations of one of Florida’s red tide species, were found from water samples.

"Our study traces the black water patches near the Florida Keys to some 200 kilometers (124 miles) away upstream," said Hu. "These results suggest that the delicate Florida Keys ecosystem is connected to what happens on land and in two remote rivers, the Peace and Caloosahatchee, as they drain into the ocean. Extreme climate conditions, such as abnormally high rainfall in spring and summer 2003, may accelerate such connections," he added.

These findings are based on scientific analyses of several things. Data used include satellite ocean color from MODIS and Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS), and wind data from NASA’s QuikSCAT satellite. U.S. Geological Survey, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, and other organizations provided rain, river discharge, and field survey information.

By knowing which way the winds blow and the currents flow, Hu and colleagues can predict where black water may move.

Red tides occur every year off Florida and are known to cause fish kills, coral stress and mortality, and skin and respiratory problems in humans. Previous studies show that prolonged "black water" patches cause water quality degradation and may cause coral death. The use of remote sensing satellites provides effective means for monitoring and predicting such events.

The link between coastal runoff and black water events is an example of how land and ocean ecosystems are linked together. "Coastal and land managers over large areas need to work together, to alleviate more black water events from taking place in the future," said Muller-Karger.

This study appeared in a recent issue of the American Geophysical Union’s Geophysical Research Letters. Coauthors of the article include Gabriel Vargo and Merrie Beth Neely from University of South Florida and Elizabeth Johns from NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory.

NASA’s Science Directorate works to improve the lives of all humans through the exploration and study of Earth’s system, the solar system and the Universe.

Rob Gutro | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov
http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/topstory/2004/0826planktonglow.html

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht World’s oldest known oxygen oasis discovered
18.01.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

nachricht A close-up look at an uncommon underwater eruption
11.01.2018 | Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Let the good tubes roll

19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine

Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation

19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>