Follow That Bloom!
Scientists Detect, Chase and Predict Phytoplankton Blooms in Monterey Bay
October 4 – 29, 2010
MBARI DSS Map Tool


View of MBARI tool for exploring positions of ships, AUVs, gliders, drifters and moorings from Oct 4th. Click to view live map tool page.
Satellite Chlorophyll Map


Oct 12th AVNIR satellite chlorophll image of Monterey Bay (dark green = most intense bloom areas). Data provided by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency and processed by the Alaska Satellite Facility.  The image was provided by J. Ryan, MBARI. Click to enlarge
North Bay Bloom Image


Oct 11th photo of the north Bay surface, showing the reddish color due to the bloom (Photo: Misty Blakely). Click to enlarge

This webpage was created to bring incredible science into the hands and eyes of the public as it is happening!  Explore the links below to discover what scientists found and how.  Many different programs, technologies and datasets were brought together for the month of October with the goal of understanding ocean conditions and phytoplankton blooms in Monterey Bay!

A BLOOM WAS DETECTED IN MONTEREY BAY!
A significant bloom of the toxic diatom, Pseudo-nitzschia australis, with its associated toxin domoic acid, was detected and tracked by the array of instruments deployed for the experiment beginning on the first day of the experiment (Oct. 4th). In large amounts, domoic acid can cause health affects in wildlife and humans. An equally strong bloom of the dinoflagellate, Prorocentrum micans, was also found in the same area. This species is typically not toxic to people or wildlife.

These blooms were tracked by the array of instruments deployed for the experiment. Strong north winds on October 5-6th generated some upwelling, causing blooms to form at the surface in the central area of the Bay that were then advected northward and eastward (toward shore). When the winds relaxed (October 6th), the Pseudo-nitzschia bloom sank below the Bay surface. Until Oct. 16th, the bloom of Prorocentrum micans was obvious at the surface but decreased markedly by Oct. 18th. A "first flush" rain event occured in the Monterey Bay area on Oct. 17th, potentially feeding blooms with nutrients from land runoff. As of Oct. 20th, two major bloom patches were detected by the experiment in the Bay: 1) close to the coast near Santa Cruz composed of Prorocentrum, and 2) a bloom of Pseudo-nitzschia in the central-northern Bay. Researchers believe that upwelling winds caused Pseudo-nitzschia (which had sunk) to be brought back to the surface. Following another large rainfall event in the area, a bloom mixed with sediment from runoff covering much of the northern Bay was detected via satellite imagery on Oct. 25th. By the 26th, the bloom became concentrated closer to shore throughout the Bay. At the Santa Cruz Wharf on the 27th, this bloom was found to be dominated by Prorocentrum but also had large numbers of Pseudo-nitzschia.

What is CeNCOOS doing?

CLICK LINKS BELOW TO JUMP TO A PAGE SECTION:

- PROJECT DESCRIPTION
- WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY
- TIMELINE WITH LINKS TO FINDINGS
- PROJECT UPDATES
- LIST OF PARTICIPANTS
- PLATFORMS/TECHNOLOGY IN USE
- SOURCES OF FURTHER INFORMATION

PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND GOALS
A large, sophisticated and collaborative experiment occured during October 2010 in Monterey Bay, aiming to identify, characterize and predict the
development and movement of phytoplankton blooms on time scales of days to weeks. Real-time information collected above, at and below the surface of Monterey Bay included: temperature, chlorophyll, dissolved nutrients, currents and winds. Several large blooms, persisting for long periods of time, have occurred in the last few years in Monterey Bay, especially in fall months in the northern Bay. The plan was to locate a bloom in the Bay, tag the bloom with drifters, follow it with autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and gliders, and predict its development and movement with models. The bloom was followed until it decayed or sank below Monterey Bay. The exercise began on October 4th and was repeated until Oct. 29th.




WHAT HAPPENED?
Data on the bloom since the start of the experiment, including images and graphs, can be found at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute's (MBARI) COSCI page (choose from links on the left hand side of the page). You can find the positions of ships, AUVs, gliders, drifters, moorings and aircraft during this experiment at the Controlled, Agile, and Novel Observing Network (CANON) Decision Support System map tool. This system allowed researchers located around the country to keep track of activity and respond as the conditions in the bay changed, rapidly changing the course of their marine assets and sampling regimens as needed.




TIMELINE OF HARMFUL ALGAL BLOOM - As Monitored by Experiment Team

10/04/10  - Experiment Began: Bloom of Pseudo-nitzshia found in north Monterey Bay | Strong upwelling (north) winds
10/06       - Winds relax and change direction, reducing upwelling in the Bay| Pseudo-nitzshia bloom sinks below Bay surface
10/07       - Bloom of Prorocentrum visible in satellite images of northern Bay | Counter-clockwise current flow in the north Bay
10/10       - Bloom intensifies in north Bay | Photo of bloom from the north Bay (photo: Misty Blakely)
10/12       - Bloom spreads further across north Bay | True Color image | Experiment's highest chlorophyll levels in ship samples
10/13       - Bloom still visible at surface, but less widespread | Pseudo-nitzshia bloom visible below Bay surface in AUV surveys
10/14       - MBARI Press Release on the experiment status and findings to date | Domoic acid toxins in Bay decrease to low levels
10/17       - First flush rainfall event in Monterey Bay area
10/18       - View data from the MBARI AUV Tethys mission | Bloom barely visible at Bay surface in satellite image
10/20       - Blooms of two species (Pseudo-nitzshia and Prorocentrum) in different areas of the Bay
10/24       - Northward surface current flow in Monterey Bay | Major rainfall event in Monterey Bay area
10/25       - Mix of sediment runoff and bloom color Bay surface waters | Spike in dissolved nitrate flowing out of Elkhorn Slough
10/26       - Bloom of Pseudo-nitzshia and Prorocentrum concentrates close to shore throughout Bay (most intense in north Bay)
10/31       - Experiment Ends | Bloom continues near shore throughout Monterey Bay


PROJECT UPDATES
Follow links below to pdfs with information from project participants on the status of the experiment and blooms:
Oct 4th: Early status and findings
Oct 7th: Jet Propulsion Lab observed (Oct 4-6th) and forecast (Oct 7-9th) winds and ocean conditions
Oct 8th: Summary of first five days of research methods and findings
Oct 8th: Summary of Oct. 8th airplane flight to observe bloom - equipment performance and findings
Oct 9th: Summary of findings from water samples taken at Santa Cruz Wharf Oct. 6-9th
Oct 14th: MBARI Press Release on the experiment status and findings to date
Oct 20th: MBARI BloomEx Experiment update
Oct 30th: MBARI Final Summary of Experiment and Blooms


ORGANIZATIONS CONTRIBUTING TO THIS EXPERIMENT
CeNCOOS, MBARI, Naval Research Lab (NRL) Monterey and Stennis Space Center branches, UCSC, USC, Stanford, Moss Landing Marine Labs, Rutgers, Cal Poly, NASA Jet Propulstion Lab, Liquid Robotics, UC Berkeley and University of Hawaii.




PLATFORMS AND TECHNOLOGY USED

SHIPS
- R/V Pt. Sur (extracted Chl, size-fractionated Chl, phaeo-pigments,
POC, C14 productivity, nutrients (NO2, NO3, Si, PO4), Scanfish with AC9,
CTD, C-star, BB3, FL3, CTD, ADCP, Water Samples – filter pad absorption,
CDOM absorption, CytoSense Flow Cytometer, Flow thru system,
Optics Package – ACS, AC9, Fluorometer, UBAT, BB3, Hydroscat, FL3,
Spectrix, MVSM ‘the beast’, LISST
- R/V John Martin (Surface mapping, water samples, net tows)
- R/V Zephyr (ISUS nitrate)
- Boppers (ADCP, CTD, BB3, FL3, Irradiance, BAM)
- Barny (ADCO)
- R/V Shanna Rae (Acrobat towed vehicle, Rhodamine dye release)

GLIDERS
Spray Gliders (2)
Gliders (7) (CTD, BB3, FL3, AUVb, BAM)
Web Gliders (1)

AUVs
Remus 100 AUV (2) (CTD, Bioluminescence, Irradiance)
Remus 600 AUV (CTD, Bioluminescence, Irradiance)
Dorado AUV (Hyrdroscat, CTD)
LRAUV

MOORINGS
Moorings (M0, M1, M2)
ESP Mooring Moe, Mack, and Bruce

AIRPLANES
Twin Otter Airplane (NRLDC CASI, NRLDC PHILLS-1)
Airplane (Airborne Hyperspectral Imager)

REMOTE SENSING
NASA Aqua (MODIS)
SeaWiFS
ESA MERIS
ISS
HF Radar (Surface currents)
MODELS
COAMPS
ROMS (Yi Chao)

SOURCES OF FURTHER INFORMATION