Evaluation of LISST instruments to monitor for harmful algal blooms (HABs) in Texas coastal waters

2010-2013 - $49,360

Daniel Thornton
Department of Oceanography
Texas A&M University


Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are an ongoing threat to coastal ecosystems, industry and leisure along the Texas coast. A challenge to bloom management is the early detection of HABs, which are patchy both in time and space. This research will evaluate the application of laser in situ scattering and transmissometry (LISST) as a tool to detect the presence and abundance of HAB species in the water column. LISST instruments have the potential to be a component of HAB monitoring systems as they are low-cost and easy to maintain, facilitating the deployment of multiple instruments at once and therefore the monitoring of a large area in real time. The research objectives are: 1) To use the LISST-100X to determine the scattering signatures of HAB species that occur in Texas waters, and 2) To conduct microcosm experiments to determine whether HAB species can be detected at concentrations representative of in situ bloom conditions against a background of naturally occurring particles. The research results will provide resource managers with the information they need to determine whether LISST instruments are a feasible tool for HAB detection in Texas waters.