Contact: Aja Sae-Kung

NOAA News Releases 2004
NOAA Home Page
NOAA Public Affairs


The Research Foundation of the State University of New York, Syracuse will explore development of a harmful algal bloom alert system under a $742,309 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration grant. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“This project will help the Great Lakes communities reduce the public health threat of toxic algal blooms and further NOAA efforts to understand and predict harmful algal bloom events in the Great Lakes,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “NOAA recognizes that no one entity can provide all components of this observing system and relies on partnerships with leading institutions like SUNY Syracuse to create scientifically sound information on harmful algal blooms that reinforce NOAA’s commitment to the environment.”

The grant is from the Monitoring and Event Response for Harmful Algal Blooms program, managed by NOAA Ocean Service, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research, Coastal Ocean Program. It will develop an integrated alert system to determine the best way to detect and respond to toxic blooms of blue-green algae in Lakes Erie, Ontario and Champlain. This project addresses the public health threat from blooms that can have serious, even fatal effects on humans and animals.

Through MERHAB, NOAA Coastal Ocean Program is engaging key academic and state partners to develop harmful algae detection and tracking tools — vital components of a Great Lakes observation system — that will benefit water resource management in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Vermont. Including this grant, MERHAB has awarded $2.2 Million to SUNY Syracuse for the first three years of this five-year research project. SUNY Syracuse leads a team of scientists from SUNY Brockport, SUNY Plattsburgh, Cornell University, University at Buffalo, University of Tennessee and University of Vermont.

“Detection of algal blooms that cause severe illness and possibly death in humans is one of the significant benefits from an integrated ocean observing system,” said Richard Spinrad, assistant administrator of the NOAA Ocean Service, which sponsored the research. “NOAA Ocean Service and its partners in state government and academia are producing new methods to detect harmful algal blooms, automating the process, and implementing the technologies into monitoring programs. Through research, NOAA is finding out more about what triggers blooms and transports their toxins, and is using these new abilities in early warning systems to help coastal managers.”

NOAA Ocean Service’s Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research Coastal Ocean Program has awarded up to $30 million annually to academic, state, tribal and Federal partners to assist NOAA in the study of our coastal oceans. Coastal Ocean Program research provides decision makers with reliable and timely scientific information. These research programs are critical to the NOAA mission of predicting environmental change, managing ocean resources and protecting life and property. NOAA-sponsored competitive research programs like MERHAB demonstrate NOAA's commitment to these basic responsibilities of science and service to the nation.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing public health and safety, and sound economic interests by researching and predicting weather and climate-related events and protecting our nation's coastal and marine resources.

On the Web:

NOAA Monitoring and Event Response for Harmful Algal Blooms (MERHAB)