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NASA Joins Multiagency Effort to Build Satellite-Based Toxic Algae Forecasting System

satelliteNASA will collaborate with the U.S. Geological Survey, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Environmental Protection Agency on a $3.6 million project to monitor and forecast toxic freshwater algal blooms with satellite technology.

The four agencies aim to use satellite ocean color data to build early warning and information distribution systems to keep people and animals safe from algae-related freshwater hazards, NASA said Tuesday.

“Observations from space-based instruments are an ideal way to tackle this type of public health hazard because of their global coverage and ability to provide detailed information on material in the water, including algal blooms,” said Paula Bontempi, a program officer at NASA’s earth science division.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden added, “We’re excited to be putting NASA’s expertise in space and scientific exploration to work protecting public health and safety.”

The project will also involve research on the health effects and environmental causes of marine cyanobacteria and phytoplankton viruses.

NASA said government researchers seek to identify land-use activities that affect the frequency and intensity of algae blooms by comparing satellite records about land cover modifications with freshwater algae information.

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