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 Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

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: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

Im Focus: The Future of Ultrafast Solid-State Physics

In an article that appears in the journal “Review of Modern Physics”, researchers at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (LAP) assess the current state of the field of ultrafast physics and consider its implications for future technologies.

Physicists can now control light in both time and space with hitherto unimagined precision. This is particularly true for the ability to generate ultrashort...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Diamond-like carbon is formed differently to what was believed -- machine learning enables development of new model

19.04.2018 | Materials Sciences

Electromagnetic wizardry: Wireless power transfer enhanced by backward signal

19.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Ultrafast electron oscillation and dephasing monitored by attosecond light source

19.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>