Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Envisat detects ’grass of the sea’ blooming early off Norway

07.03.2005


Spring starts early this year in Norway’s fjords and coastal waters, with sunny weather awakening a colourful bloom of marine phytoplankton. ESA’s Envisat spacecraft is being used to monitor its development.



Microscopic phytoplankton have been called ’the grass of the sea’ – they are the basic food on which all other marine life depends. Provided with sufficient light planktonic algae multiply by absorbing mineral nutrients and converting solar energy into organic matter. They themselves are consumed by animal zooplankton that go on to provide food for larger animals and fish.

Although individually tiny, the collective chlorophyll pigments of algae species cause slight shifts in water hues, and dedicated ocean colour sensors such as Envisat’s Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) can identify phytoplankton concentrations.


The onset of this year’s bloom of phytoplankton in Norwegian waters was triggered by sunny weather in the last week of February. After a winter of heavy weather there were ample mineral nutrients in place for a bloom; sunlight was the only missing factor.

Earth Observation imagery by itself is not sufficient to identify the species that are blooming, but during such cloud free periods satellite data are essential to monitor the daily development of the bloom and to plan an optimal water-sampling strategy.

"The image shows a natural and annual phenomenon that happened at about the same time last year," says Lasse Pettersson of Norway’s Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center (NERSC). "Although it is occurring some weeks earlier than the long-term average time for the onset of early spring blooms in these waters.

"These spring blooms are generally governed by the availability of nutrients, solar light and ocean currents causing the advection of the water masses. This MERIS image shows the blooms in our major fjords and the extension of the Norwegian Coastal Current with its meanders and eddies."

"The Nansen Center has been using Earth Observation data daily since 1998 to monitor Norwegian coastal waters in order to contribute to the early detection of possible harmful algae blooms in our waters. Analysis of water samples this week confirms that these algae species are normal for the season, and have no harmful impact on our environment."

Some algae species are toxic or harmful. If they surge out of control during optimal blooming conditions they can kill fish and seabed life, or suffocate larger individuals as decaying phytoplankton exhaust all available oxygen across wide stretches of water.

Harmful algae blooms have in the past caused significant losses to the Norwegian aquaculture industry found along its coast. There are some 870 salmon and trout fish farms in Norway, with a total turnover of 9 486 million Norwegian Kroner (€1 143 million) in 2003.

"In addition to satellite monitoring an extensive network of in-situ measurements and numerical ocean and ecosystem models are used to predict the development of possible harmful algae blooms," Pettersson added. "This type of integrated monitoring and forecasting provides the fishery authorities, the aquaculture industry, consumers and research community with significant information in order to initiate mitigation actions as well as better understand the causes and impact of possible harmful algae blooms."

As part of its Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) Services Element, ESA is funding the development and enhancement of services to help manage and protect the entire European coastal environment. The two priorities are coastal water quality information – including detection of algae blooms likely to affect safety of fish farms and quality of coastal bathing water, and forecasting bloom evolution – and oil spill information – including the detection of illegal oil discharges and drift forecasting from large accidental spills such as the 2002 Prestige tanker disaster.

Although still under development, these information services have already demonstrated their worth. For instance, in 2004 Dutch shellfish farmers were spared an estimated bill of up to €200 million when an early warning of an algal bloom occurrence enabled the Royal Dutch Marine and Coastal Management Institute (RIKZ) to close estuary beds and prevent toxic algae from entering shellfish beds.

Mariangela D’Acunto | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/export/esaEO/SEM48FD3M5E_planet_0.html

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Value from wastewater
16.08.2017 | Hochschule Landshut

nachricht Species Richness – a false friend? Scientists want to improve biodiversity assessments
01.08.2017 | Carl von Ossietzky-Universität Oldenburg

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>