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Harmful Algae Bloom

Postby nahendri » Sun Oct 22, 2006 1:29 am

I saw this project and got excited because it is a great water quality project.I did the WQI of a few local rivers last year.

I think I have some good ideas for this project too. My science fair director reccommended your site. Since we live far from the Chesapeake bay even if I do a good job making connections with this data is it going to hurt me because I did not conduct my own research (Of course I don't have all of the necessary equipment - only a Low Cost LaMotte Kit)

I want to look at WQI during 2000 - 2002 and maybe a Trophic State Index(Chlorophyll) Again, all of the data is avable for 2000 -2002. Is this going to hurt me that this is not the very latest data?

Please let me know what insights you may have. I do not have access to a local lab (we are very rural) to do bactera testing for a full WQI if I do testing on a local wetland. (Which is my alternate project)

I have studied the algae (although I certainly am not familiar with all types and all groups. I did discover that daitoms were responsible for two - and possibly three local and recent fish kills and can relate the findings locally in a very broad way. (We live inland and only have freshwater except - we on on a saline/freshwater line with sulfur springs as a groundwater source) I am sure that some of the local waterways do get somewhat brackish from this groundwater. (Our local water source (tapwater ) is 1000 mg/l in salinity (I tested it as my ice cubes tasted like salt)

Maybe I am throwing in too many issues. I just want to know if this is a good project even if you live far from the bay.
Thank you.

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Postby soundwave990 » Sun Oct 22, 2006 6:16 pm

since you only have data from four years ago it would be best if you acquired recent data or you yourself tried to study and discover for yourself the different outcomes etc
I hope this helps and good luck with your project
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Postby nahendri » Mon Oct 23, 2006 12:02 am

The project suggests using data from 2005. I have thought and thought and finally concluded that I could study some of the conditions that need to be present for specific blooms (water quality parameters) I could look at out- breaks starting with 2005 and work back. (Chlorophyll info is not available for 2006 yet)

Do you think this may be ok?

I really really appreciate your feedback. Thank you soundwave990.

I guess I got scared as I asked a Biology professor at the college about this and he seemed negative about a "dry lab"

What does that mean? And will this project be ok for a senior project? Science Buddies says it is an 8 and I am in 10th grade.

Thanks again for any feedback or advice.

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Postby matthewmulanax » Mon Oct 23, 2006 7:39 am

"Dry lab" is to write up experimental results without doing the actual work.

Matt Mulanax

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Occupation: Research Hydrologist

Postby ChrisG » Mon Oct 23, 2006 9:47 am

If you are genuinely interested in this project, I encourage you to pursue it. There is no fundamental problem with a "data mining" (using existing data) project. It's not better or worse than a project that involves data collection - it is just different. Data mining projects are typically more computer/ math oriented than projects that involve data collection. Data mining also can involve a lot of time contacting people to ask questions about sample collection, analytical procedures, etc. Another option would be to do a project that combines data mining with a laboratory experiment to test a single hypothesis.

I'm not sure why this project was rated an "8" for difficulty. It can be as easy or as difficult as you make it. Keep in mind, this is a very broad issue with some large data sets, so you will need to narrow your question down to something specific. What part of the Algal Bloom project interests you the most?

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Possible Hypotheses

Postby nahendri » Mon Oct 23, 2006 12:01 pm

I am interested in several aspects of this issue. I have done quite a bit of research. My biggest problem has been in narrowing the subject area.

Initially I noticed that all of the parameters of the Water Quality Index were available for the years 2000 - 2002. As HAB's are related to nutrient loads and the overall water quality index - and Maryland has done so much work to decrease nutrient loading. I thought I could generate a monthly water quality index at 4 test locations (weighting out bacteria) and see if the WQI had improved during the years 2000 to 2002 during the months of June July and August.

I then - after doing further reasearch, became interested in the relaionships beweeen temperature and salinity and Harmful Algae Blooms. One of my earliest thoughts were that as temperature increases HABS increase. I realize that this is somewhat simplistic now. I see that each HAB has an ideal temperature that stimulates growth. (When I initially looked at temperature and HABS I saw blooms and even fish kills can occur in December at 50 degrees F)

My latest thought is to look at this: During reports of K Micrum blooms (as measured by chlorophyll levels) at test locations the temperature will be higher than during reports of P minimum(as measured by chlorophyll levels) blooms at test locations.

Is the typical bloom size of P minimum smaller than the bloom size of K micrum or are the chlorophyll levels typically lower in the data because the weather is cooler - the days shorter - and the sunlight less allowing less time for photosynthesis?

Anyway the basic question would be Do different types of HAB's grow better at different temperatures?

The salinity also intrigues me as I see that some of the Hab species grow better at all salinity ranges and some at high salinity ranges and some at low salinity ranges.

Would a mapping of algae succession for the bay along a diagram of the salt wedge help in identifiying which type of algae could be blooming or is most likely to be blooming at a particular time of year?

Also, as I understand it, if blooms occur one year then cysts form and wait in the sediment for optimal growth conditions. If there have been previous HAB's of a certain type along a waterway, there most likely will be similar outbreaks in the future so that this also can be a way to predict future Hab's that may occur in an area.

Also, what is the purpose of the monitoring? I know Maryland and other areas with these problems are trying to decrease nutrient loading. How can good blooms be promoted and Hab's be avoided?

I know this is long. I appreciate any and all help in steering me in the right direction.

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