Webinars promote algae research communication

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration began a series of three Great Lakes algae webinars on Tuesday by asking university and private researchers to communicate more about what they’re doing.

The goal of an interagency working group formed under the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act is to tie more research together. NOAA and other federal agencies, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, can better identify data gaps, Mary Erickson, director of NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, said.

Researchers, public interest groups, and individuals who want to comment on algae-research priorities are encouraged to email questions and comments to iwg-habhrca@noaa.gov. The next two webinars are scheduled for today and Thursday, both starting at 1 p.m. Each lasts an hour.

“We realize there’s a plethora of research going on outside of the federal community. We want to facilitate as much interaction with you as possible on this report,” said Tim Davis, a research scientist at NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor.

Although the webinars include extensive discussions about Lake Erie, Mr. Davis said the report being developed by the interagency group covers algae throughout the Great Lakes region.

Other major hot spots are Green Bay, Wis., and Saginaw Bay, Mich.

Chris Winslow, Ohio Sea Grant interim director, said Sea Grant and Ohio State University’s Stone Laboratory oversees $5 million in grants distributed to 44 algae-research projects across Ohio. One is to help identify pollution sources with better “phosphorus fingerprinting,” he said.

“There’s a lot of work currently going on in Ohio,” Mr. Winslow said.

One of the main goals is to help predict blooms in advance so water-treatment plant operators and beach operators have more time to prepare, said Donna Francy, a U.S. Geological Survey scientist.

Contact Tom Henry at: thenry@theblade.com, 419-724-6079, or via Twitter @ecowriterohio.
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