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Prediction and Early Warning

Bloom forecasting and monitoring are important strategies that provide early warning of regional blooms.  Such warnings allow state, local, and tribal officials, shellfish growers and industries, and the general public to take appropriate actions to minimize bloom impacts. Although measurement of biotoxins in shellfish is the standard monitoring approach to protect public health (see National Shellfish Sanitation Program Guide), many new methods are now being used to supplement those time consuming methods and provide earlier, faster, and cheaper warnings.  HAB microscopic identification and microscope counts is the standard approach used to assess bloom status, but a variety of new remote sensing methods, using satellites, planes, and in-water sensors for HAB cells and toxins are increasingly being developed and for bloom forecasting and monitoring.

Progress in forecasting efforts has been advanced in recent years by the development of site or region-specific models, as well as short-term (once or twice weekly) and longer-term, seasonal forecasts to predict the severity of seasonal blooms.   Development of predictive models rely on sufficient organismal knowledge of the HAB species being modeled, a mechanistic understanding of blooms in a particular region, and adequate time series oceanographic and HAB data for model construction and operation.

NOAA supports the development of HAB monitoring, observing, and forecasts at HAB impacted regions in the U.S. in collaboration with academic, state, tribal, and local manager partners. Once pilot forecasts are developed and validated, the forecasting ability is transitioned to operations, often as part of the NOAA HAB Operational Forecasting System (HABOFS). Then, similar to weather forecasts, regional HAB forecasts are issued on a regular basis during the seasons when HABs occur.

Click on the map below and zoom in or out to see what types of monitoring and forecasting systems are available in coastal regions and states.