Research seeks to transform HAB management
The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation reported its Marine Lab is leading the field campaign for a water sampling effort that is informing a state-of-the-art artificial intelligence transformer model to better manage the water flow from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee. Sample analyses are incorporated into model simulations to help identify the drivers of harmful algal blooms, or HABs, and set targets for needed water quality improvements.
The SCCF is collaborating with the University of Florida’s Center for Coastal Solutions and other UF researchers to guide water managers in delivering freshwater, while minimizing the negative impacts of nutrient loads from horticultural activities.
A distinguishing feature of the model is its ability to pay attention to the most relevant information it has been trained to work with. In the project, the team trains the model to learn from years of archived data to forecast variables, such as streamflow, salinity and nitrate concentration.
As co-principal investigator, Marine Lab Director Dr. Eric Milbrandt is utilizing methods for earlier HAB detection through the River, Estuary and Coastal Observing Network’s continuous water quality monitoring stations and a comprehensive, targeted sampling program — critical tools in a region where water quality monitoring has largely occurred as a reaction to bloom events.