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Collaboration to provide satellite images of harmful algae in Western Lake Erie Basin

The University of Toledo, Blue Water Satellite, Inc. and the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL) have launched a pilot program of satellite monitoring that can provide early bloom daily tracking of the harmful algal blooms (HABs) that have been increasingly threatening Western Lake Erie for the last several years.

“This experimental research project uses collaboration between public and private entities to push the state of the art,” said Dr. Marie Colton, director of the NOAA GLERL lab in Ann Arbor, Mich. “GLERL, University of Toledo, and Blue Water Satellite each bring their unique knowledge and experience to the collaboration. This public-private sector collaboration can pave the way to new knowledge creation, and processes that may ultimately lead to job growth as the project transfers from research to commercial production.”

Using data from the NASA MODIS satellite, United States Geological Survey (USGS) LANDSAT 7 satellite and the DigitalGlobe WorldView 2 satellite, researchers from The University of Toledo and Blue Water Satellite, Inc., of Bowling Green, Ohio, will combine the data from each of the satellites. This data may in the future provide the public and governmental agencies additional ability to see toxic algae early bloom formation conditions in the entire Western Lake Erie region within 24 hours of each satellite overpass.

Low resolution satellite data will be processed daily by Blue Water Satellite using algorithms developed by Dr. Richard Becker, assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at UT. High resolution satellite imaging will be processed every 16 days and on demand by Blue Water Satellite using algorithms developed by Dr. Robert Vincent at Bowling Green State University and by Blue Water Satellite.

“The fusion of this low resolution and high resolution satellite data can provide additional insights into early HAB formation never before possible,” Becker said.

“Blue Water Satellite is pleased to be collaborating with NOAA and Dr. Becker at UT, and the opportunity to pursue a public-private collaboration,” said Milt Baker, CEO of Blue Water Satellite.

In addition to the HAB imagery and data, Blue Water Satellite will provide measurements of total phosphorus for the entire area. Increasing levels of total phosphorus are contributors to the severe HAB outbreaks in Lake Erie in recent years. BlueWater Satellite has developed the only algorithm in the world that performs this total phosphorus detection and measurement function using satellite data.

The Harmful Algal Blooms, which have formed in Lake Erie in recent years commonly contain cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae. Many cyanobacteria release toxins which are known to cause liver and nerve damage in humans, and kill pets and other animals.

This University of Toledo work is supported through the Cooperative Institute for Limnology and Ecosystems Research (CILER), as part of their goal to assist the Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS) with near shore water quality management as a part of the US EPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). Once proven successful, the fusion monitoring project may become an ongoing service during HAB outbreak season, roughly April through October each year.

For more information contact Steve Holland, Blue Water Satellite, at 419.575.6563.

About The University of Toledo
Established in 1872, The University of Toledo is home to nearly 22,500 students across 13 colleges and six Ohio campuses. The University offers more than 230 doctoral, professional, graduate and undergraduate programs. Nearly 350 student athletes comprise 15 Division 1 Rocket athletic teams. UT has earned national and international acclaim for its expertise in solar and advanced renewable energy, environmental sciences, astronomical research, translational research and biomarkers. For more information visit

About Blue Water Satellite, Inc.
Blue Water Satellite, Inc. uses satellite images and patented image processing algorithms to monitor land and water resources for government agencies, utilities, environmental firms and lake managers around the world. Blue Water Satellite has a track record of serving some of the largest commercial firms in the world over the last four years. Blue Water Satellite is headquartered in Bowling Green, Ohio and is the only company in the world that offers satellite image processing for cyanobacteria, chlorophyll-a, phosphorus in water, phosphorus on land, and submerged aquatic vegetation. For more information visit

About Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL)
Based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory is one of seven federal research laboratories within the Oceanic and Atmospheric Research line office of NOAA. GLERL was formed in 1974 to provide a focus for NOAA’s environmental and ecosystem research in the Great Lakes and coastal marine environments.During its history, GLERL has made many important scientific contributions to the understanding and management of the Great Lakes and other coastal ecosystems. GLERL scientists thus play a critical role in academic, state, federal, and international partnerships, and GLERLresearch provides information and services to support decisions that affect the environment, recreation, public health and safety, and the economy of the Great Lakes. For more information visit


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