Harmful Algal Bloom Assessment of Lake Okeechobee System (HALO)
The HALO portal is a comprehensive sensing and information visualization package aimed to combat Florida freshwater eutrophication, harmful algae proliferation, and ultimately protect human and ecosystem health. Activities and the portal are a product of generous support by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, via the Office of Ecosystem Projects Harmful Algal Bloom Innovative Technology and Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) Program.
We are augmenting existing State of Florida monitoring programs by augmenting conventional harmful algal bloom (HAB)-related measurements with advanced biogeochemical measurements of the water, sediment, and air, using the innovative harmful algal bloom (HAB) detection and environmental characterization technologies described below. Our aim is to pinpoint problem areas prior to -or early during- a Lake Okeechobee HAB emergence, while improving our overall knowledge of the triggers underlying bloom formation, toxin generation, and bloom senescence. As of Jan. 1, 2021, the HALO Data Portal system (Harmful Algal Bloom Assessment of Lake Okeechobee) is a continuously developing web-based platform for visualizing Lake Okeechobee freshwater HAB bloom intensities and extents, as well as results of environmental characterization and modeling. The results of most of the following activities are visible on the HALO Data Portal:

Biogeochemical Modeling (ROMS-NPZD)
Mingshun Jiang, jiangm@fau.edu
Ash Brereton, abrereton@fau.edu

We are developing a coupled 4-Dimensional (i.e. Latitude, Longitude, Depth, and Time) physical-biological model for Lake Okeechobee based on the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS). The model will include both hydrodynamic and biogeochemical components that capture the fundamental physical-biogeochemical processes in the lake while taking into account the external forcing including freshwater inputs and outputs through the rivers and canals, and meteorological forcing. The objective is to use the model to synthesize HALO activities and ultimately provide operational forecasts of water quality and phytoplankton blooms in the lake.

Machine Learning Model
Yufei Tang, tangy@fau.edu
David Wilson, davidwilson2016@fau.edu

As a distinct activity from the Biogeochemical Model, we are developing a Machine Learning Model to predict M. aeruginosa surface blooms based on current and recent environmental conditions. The Machine Learning approach is unique and relies on high computing power to develop predictions based on artificial intelligence and pattern recognition. The Machine Learning Model features (inputs) will consist of recent (days to weeks) and current environmental, geochemical, and/or biological data (including HAB conditions), and the model will output the likelihood of occurrence and intensity of near-future (days to weeks), spatially resolved, M. aeruginosa bloom.

Environmental Monitoring and Sample Collection (including HAB and Toxin Identification and Characterization, and Metabolic Measurements)
Malcolm McFarland, mmcfarland@fau.edu
Jessica Carney, jcarney@fau.edu

Repeat visits during the non-bloom and bloom season will provide opportunities for collecting biological samples for innovative, comprehensive algal sampling beyond what is already being performed by existing State of Florida-funded monitoring efforts. In addition, visits will collect environmental and optical data used to characterize the living environment of the organisms, i.e. ingredients that may contribute to HAB formation. Both surface and bottom samples are planned to provide a better illustration of full water column processes, also important from the Project-wide emphasis on the role of “internal” sediment loading of nutrients and toxin as well as the role of water column conditions on bloom formation. Five monitoring sites with 3 relative “Tiers” of importance are located at points representing the N/S/E/W and center of the lake. The single Tier 1 north site has a mud bottom, is considered important in HAB dynamics, and will be used for most of the sampling and measurement activities. In Tier 2, two additional sites with sand and peat sediments will be examined (west and south, respectively). Finally, in Tier 3, monitoring at the two remaining mud bottom sites will provide full lake coverage.

Load Mapping and Diffusive Flux Characterization, sediment Algal Cysts, and Sediment Algal Toxins
Lynn Wilking, lwilking@fau.edu

Sediment spatial inventories of carbon, nutrients, and their respective benthic fluxes to the water column will be quantified semi-monthly. Microcystis aeruginosa cyst resting stages and toxins in the sediment will also be quantified. During each field survey, sediment cores from Tiers 1, 2, and 3 sites will be collected (five sites total during each survey), the sites together comprehending several bottom types (3 x mud, 1 x sand, 1 x peat).

Benthic Lander Deployments
Jordon Beckler, jbeckler@fau.edu
Jessica Carney, jcarney@fau.edu

A novel benthic lander package will be deployed in conjunction with the sediment core collections to perform in-situ biogeochemical measurements. Over a multi-hour period the lander will obtain measurements enabling direct in-situ measurements of carbon, nutrients, and sediment redox profiles (a notoriously challenging measurement to make), as well as water quality data such as salinity, temperature, chl-a, FDOM, and DO.

Autonomous Spatial Monitoring via Surface Vehicle (Navocean)
Scott Duncan, scott@navocean.com
In-situ environmental, biogeochemical, and physical data will be collected with an sail-powered Autonomous Surface Vehicle (ASV) operating 24/7/365. The ASV will be configured to detect the presence of HABs and is expected to survey an area of NW Lake Okeechobee, but may be redirected to other areas where emerging HABs are suspected. The measurements provide not only obviously measurements of HAB parameters and the surrounding environment, but also enable validation of other data sources.

Remote Sensing and SeaPRISM Monitoring
Tim Moore, mooret@fau.edu

Remote sensing data products will be generated from Sentinel-3 satellite data streams. Raw satellite data will be processed and used with several bio-optical algorithms producing turbidity and the cyanobacterial index. Eventually, we expect to generate validated measurements of chl-a concentration. This is the major advancement of this work: we will develop the first measurements of the accuracy and utility of satellite measurements for HABs in Lake Okeechobee.

Fixed-location Intensive Water Quality Monitoring (Biogeochemical Instrument Packages)
Dennis Hanisak, dhanisak@fau.edu
Kristen Davis, ksande14@fau.edu
Haley McQueen, hmcqueen@fau.edu

As an expansion of similar sites in the Indian River Lagoon and St. Lucie Estuary on the east coast of Florida, Biogeochemical Instrument Packages (BIPs) are being installed at critical sites for the initiation of cyanobacterial blooms in Lake Okeechobee and will continuously monitor temperature, conductivity, depth, DO, pH, chlorophyll a, phycocyanin, turbidity, CDOM, phosphate, and nitrate on an hourly basis.