Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the Cyanobacteria Assessment Network (CyAN) mobile application (app), a tool that uses satellite data to alert users that a harmful algal bloom could be forming based on specific changes in the color of the water in more than 2,000 of the largest lakes and reservoirs across the United States.
"This mobile app is an important tool going into the summer months to help states and local communities track and manage harmful algal blooms," said EPA Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for Science for the Office of Research and Development and EPA Science Advisor Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta. "The most effective way of protecting people, pets, and livestock from the impacts of harmful algal blooms is knowing ahead of time to avoid water containing cyanobacteria. EPA is focused on providing communities with tools like this that can make water quality monitoring easier and more efficient."
Cyanobacteria occur naturally in many bodies of water across the country. In small numbers, these algae are not a problem. But when cyanobacteria multiply they can form potentially toxic harmful algal blooms (or HABs).
In partnership with the National Aeronautics Space Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Geological Survey, EPA has been working to develop this early warning system using historical and current satellite data to help lake managers, water quality managers, and people swimming, fishing, or boating in lakes more quickly identify when there may be a bloom-forming and avoid any potential health impacts to people, pets, livestock or the environment.
Though satellite data have been available for many years, it has not typically been used in decision-making because of the complicated data formats and the time burden it took to process and access the data.
The CyAN app developed by EPA gives users the ability to easily assess satellite-derived cyanobacteria biomass concentrations occurring over larger lakes and reservoirs across the country. This app reduces the need for scientific expertise in satellite data processing, analysis and interpretation, and eliminates barriers to computer hardware requirements associated with the use of satellite data files. In this easy to use, customizable interface, users can rapidly distill critical water quality information for their communities.
The CyAN App is available for download in the Google Play™ store for Android™ devices.