Red Tide Predictions Off Florida Depend On Current

By on April 28, 2016

Red tide. (Credit: NOAA)

Researchers at the University of South Florida have found a reliable way to create red tide predictions for areas off the Florida coast, according to a release. Their approach involves the combination of a number of tools that are already yielding data on the coastal region’s water quality.

These include things like moored instruments, robotic gliders and images from satellites. Computer modeling is still another dynamic they consider and biological and chemical factors are also included in their predictions.

Beyond those, the researchers say that the most important factor is ocean circulation. And they have keyed in on one current in particular, the Gulf of Mexico Loop Current. By focusing on the behavior of that current, reliable predictions can be made.

If the current interacts with the shelf slope near the Dry Tortugas Islands, new nutrients will come onto the shelf from the deeper ocean and favor the growth of microscopic sea plants, suppressing the likelihood of a red tide event.

Top image: Red tide. (Credit: NOAA)

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