Deciphering Sargassum Physics, Biology, and Physiology through PACE Measurements: Implications to Ocean Ecology, Biogeochemistry, and Management Decision SupportPI: Chuanmin Hu - University of South Florida
Co-Is: Gustavo Jorge Goni (NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory); Brian Lapointe (Florida Atlantic University)
Pelagic Sargassum macroalgae can be both an ecologically important habitat in the ocean and a nuisance on the beach. Recent efforts, mainly funded by NASA's Ocean Biology and Biogeochemistry program and Ecological Forecast program, led to the initial understanding of Sargassum biology, abundance distributions, and development of a decision-making tool to track large Sargassum mats in near real-time (see Sargassum Watch System or SaWS, https://optics.marine.usf.edu/projects/saws.html), with SaWS and its associated monthly bulletins being used extensively and routinely by many stakeholders including governmental agencies, environmental groups, private sectors, and the general public. The discovery of the great Atlantic Sargassum belt extending from the west Africa to the Gulf of Mexico, which has been recurrent since 2011, suggests a possible oceanic regime shift where recurrent Sargassum blooms may become the new normal in future years. Other macroalgae blooms have also been reported in other parts of the oceans, emphasizing the importance of studying macroalgae in general. The goal of this project is to improve our understanding of Sargassum physics, biology, and physiology in support of PACE mission goals, with the following objectives:
- Develop PACE-compatible algorithms to characterize Sargassum physics, including color tones, depth, areal density, and biomass density
- Develop PACE-compatible algorithms to understand Sargassum biology, including Sargassum pigment composition, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, and growth rate
- Understand Sargassum physiology through characterizing its Sun-induced fluorescence (SIF)
- Work with the NASA PACE SDS team to implement core algorithms to prepare for PACE mission
- Demonstrate the potentials of using PACE-analog data and PACE-compatible algorithms in improving SaWS in order to benefit the user communities
- Explore the possibility of using PACE-analog data to study other types of floating macroalgae (e.g., Ulva) and microalgae (e.g., Noctiluca scintillas, Trichodesmium).
- Improved understanding of Sargassum physics, biology, and physiology
- PACE-compatible algorithms to characterize Sargassum physics, biology, and physiology, which can be implemented by NASA SDS and improved upon the launch of PACE. The primary product will be Sargassum biomass density, while the second product will be Sargassum growth rate and/or fluorescence efficiency.
- Demonstration of PACE-unique products to enhance SaWS
- Technical reports, publications, and a sustained system to facilitate the use of NASA PACE data and other data to help make management and research decisions.