A Year and a Hurricane Apart: Nutrient Loading in the St. Lucie Estuary in the Summers of 2016 and 2017
An aerial photo shows blue-green algae enveloping an area along the St. Lucie River in Stuart, Fla., June 29, 2016. (Photo: AP)
Aptly described as “guacamole soup,” the 2016 algal bloom in Florida’s St. Lucie Estuary prompted a state of emergency in response to mounting health, environmental, and economic concerns.
Sea-Bird Scientific’s Dr. Ian Walsh worked alongside scientists from Florida Atlantic University to study the bloom. Using real-time data from a network of Land/Ocean Biogeochemical Observatory (LOBO) systems, the scientists were able to determine probable causes of the algal bloom by utilizing real-time broadcasts of salinity, dissolved organic matter, and nutrient data to trace the movement of water. The result: high freshwater discharge from Lake Okeechobee into St. Lucie appeared to be “clogging” the natural exchange of freshwater and seawater, allowing blue-green algae to flourish in the trapped high-phosphate freshwater. Find out how the team solved the mystery in Dr. Walsh’s recorded webinar, or view the presentation PDF.
As with the St. Lucie Estuary, real-time data can act as a lens to dynamic systems; as conditions change and variables interact with one another, up-to-date access to data is crucial for creating accurate models and making a timely response in a state of emergency. Access to a diverse array of sensors is crucial for piecing together a data-driven story, as shown in Dr. Walsh’s Case Study on how in situ autonomous nutrient systems helped to decode nutrient sources and circulation dynamics within the St. Lucie Estuary.
AOOS Ocean Data Explorer: Alaska’s Integrated Data Portal
The Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS) has updated Ocean Data Explorer, the statewide data portal connecting the world to diverse datasets from across Alaska, including the Arctic, Bering Sea, and Gulf of Alaska - the state’s three largest marine ecosystems. Packaged in an interactive interface, Ocean Data Explorer organizes and presents data for applications ranging from tracking bird migration to identifying potential assets for future research. The Real-Time Sensor Map provides eyes on live conditions in scientifically and economically critical parts of the state.
- Data comparison and charting functions
- Featured data views
- Advanced charting features, including climatologies and anomalies
- Station and source level metadata pages
- Shareable custom data views
The updated Ocean Data Explorer is currently in beta testing; click on the “Feedback” tab in the upper right corner to help improve the portal features and tools.
Tech Tip: Early Rinse Command and More Aggressive Sensor Cleaning with Bleach
The HydroCycle-PO4 and its predecessor the Cycle-PO4 are wet chemical sensors capable of detecting phosphate at nanomolar resolution. Outfitted with pre-mixed reagents and precision optics, these phosphate detectors are self-driving laboratories, autonomously conducting analytical chemistry to measure environmental phosphate. And as with any laboratory equipment, cleanliness is key for good data. To accommodate laboratory-grade data in a less than sterile environments, Sea-Bird Scientific has developed new cleaning and flushing options, documented in Application Note 124 [PDF].
· Early rinse feature: Sea-Bird implemented a new early rinse feature to combat staining from the Cycle’s reagents. Users can now program their Cycle to rinse reagents from the sensor once the reaction has finished and data has been logged, preventing the reagents from lingering and staining the hardware. The early rinse feature can be configured in the Cycle Host software or via a terminal emulator.
· New cleaning method: flushing the Cycle with bleach provides a more thorough cleaning, helping to prevent biofouling and staining from affecting phosphate measurements. Using bleach to clean the Cycle can replace the recommended flush with Micro-90 solution, or both solutions can be used for a more aggressive flushing procedure. Please note that you can use bleach and Micro-90 in sequence, but NOT together.
Meet Our People: Dr. Ian Walsh, Ph.D., Director of Science
Ian is a prominent member of our Science Team and is based at our WET Labs facility in Philomath, Oregon. Ian received his B.S. from Case Institute of Technology at Case Western Reserve University, M.S. from the College of Oceanography at Oregon State University, and Ph.D. from Texas A&M University. His research interests are particle dynamics (including the use of the particle field to understand basic biogeochemical processes and the influence of physical forcing on those processes), carbon fluxes and fates (including predictive modelling), and calibration and QA/QC of optical data sets. He is currently working on enhancing our calibration methodologies and developing instruments and techniques for the detection of crude oil.
Ian is an avid gardener and home chef, combining the two passions with his wife Carol by growing their own vegetables for the kitchen creations at their home in Corvallis, Oregon. Occasionally Ian can be seen pedaling his bike to the Sea-Bird Scientific site inPhilomath, something he likes to do to keep fit.
- POGO-19 (Partnership for Observation of Global Oceans) Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego, California, USA. January 23 - 25
- Ocean Sciences 2018: Portland, Oregon, USA. February 11 - 16, 2018
- Oi London 2018: London, UK. March 13 - 15, 2018