A web-based modeling approach for tracking algal blooms in lower Great Lakes
Kalluri, Sougandh Babu
MetadataShow full item record
The occurrence of algal blooms in the Great Lakes has been a growing concern over the past few decades, especially for toxic or harmful algal blooms (HABs). For the present work a general circulation model is used to help in understanding the movement of detected algal blooms. Most of hydrodynamic models applied to the Great Lakes have assumed idealistic forcing (meteorological) or consider specific events or limited spatial extent. There is a need to predict the transport patterns of algal blooms using real-time data which can help in identifying potential impact zones along the coast, for example. The main aim of the present work is to develop a web-based user interface for a model application in Lake Erie and Lake Ontario which will provide predictions of the path of algal blooms given the real-time initial location of the bloom. This task is achieved using a three-dimensional hydrodynamic model (Princeton Ocean Model, POM) and a particle tracking model (PTM) developed at the University at Buffalo linked with real-time weather conditions. The user-friendly web page developed allows the user to select a location of interest in either lake with a choice of either real-time forward tracking up to 3 days into the future or historical runs (forward or backward tracking) starting from year 2000. In addition to the website, 3 grid size models, namely 1 km, 2 km and 4 km grids were developed to study the effect of grid size on the diffusion and in turn the particle tracks. It is observed that the diffusion increases with increase in grid size and computational run time increases with decrease in grid size of the POM. From this study, it was concluded that the 2 km resolution model would suit the needs of the web application, taking into consideration the computational resources and accuracy of the results. Simple analysis has been carried out to show that the PTM time step can be increased, relative to previous applications, without any compromise on the accuracy of the results which gives a significant run time savings. The motivation for this study came from the need to develop a complete algal transport system for Lake Erie and Lake Ontario as a part of the MERHAB-LGL project, a NOAA-sponsored study directed by Dr. Gregory Boyer at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.