The Issue

Harmful algal blooms, or HABs, occur when populations of algae grow out of control in bodies of water, as a response to certain conditions such as high water temperature or excess nutrients.  HABs can pose risks to human health and the environment; people can get sick by eating shellfish or fish exposed to a HAB, or can have respiratory problems if they breathe contaminated air near the bloom. Non-human animals are also susceptible to the effects of HABs, which have been linked to shellfish toxicity, fish kills, and deaths of birds and other wildlife. These health risks can have a significant economic impact through the closure of fishing areas and beaches used for recreation, as well as the requirements for specialized treatment of potable water systems.

The Solution

It would be cost prohibitive to monitor every potential HAB site and prepare for a myriad of contingencies.  Instead, targeting site-specific in situ monitoring coupled with predictive modeling, provides an early warning system to advise health officials and resource managers on how to best focus their efforts to protect health and environment.

CSS Innovations and Contributions:  Together with NOAA, CSS has helped to develop a comprehensive approach to conduct research; build tools to identify and detect HABs species, toxins, and levels of toxins; and create workflows for analyzing data on HABs and other environmental issues. 

Our comprehensive support for NOAA includes:

  • developing algorithms to process, classify, and validate remotely-sensed multi-spectral data
  • conducting time-series analyses of oceanographic variables
  • developing software applications and satellite image products
  • developing protocols to validate satellite sensors
  • processing satellite and in situ HABs data
  • preparing environmental assessments and impact statements
  • education and outreach
  • managing scientific instruments
  • designing field sampling
  • data integration and analysis

CSS’ innovations and contributions include:

Additional Projects

ITC Tank Farm Fire Emergency Response

In response to a dangerous fire EPA ordered CSS’ senior field operations specialists to a facility near Houston where massive tanks stored highly flammable liquids to help manage emergency response activities.

Underground Transport Restoration Operational Technology Demonstration

CSS provided both technical and logistical support for the Underground Transport Restoration Operational Technology Demonstration.

Cleaning Up the National Anthrax Attack

Challenge CSS working alongside of the U. S. Centers for Disease Control characterized the extent of building contamination and subsequently determined that the entire 100,000 foot building and contents would need to be decontaminated. A novel method needed to be developed and implemented for cleaning the massive number of mail pouches, packages and artifacts destined…

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