U.S. scientists say an experimental system
using satellite data and computer modeling will help predict the
direction and intensity of unsightly algae clumps in the Great Lakes.

 

The system went online this summer and has so far been used on Lake Erie where the algae problem is particularly acute.

 

Erie
is plagued by microcystis - a blue-green algae which produces toxins
which can cause skin rashes, diarrhoea and nausea. It also contaminates
drinking water and kills fish.

 

The system may eventually be used
on other Great Lakes and along ocean coasts where algae blooms can
cause more than $82 million in damage a year.

The forecasting
system allows scientists to predict where blooms will occur and warn
local health and water departments in advance.

The pilot project, which cost almost $270,000, was developed by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.