Algal blooms occur naturally during spring and summer months in lakes and coastal waters and they can be beneficial for aquaculture. However, as the negative effects of climate change increase, they tend to appear more frequently, more and more early in the year as well as in higher magnitude and duration.
A harmful algal bloom (HAB) episode is caused by excessive algal growth in lakes and coastal waters. HABs severely deplete oxygen levels in a water body killing all the marine life. In addition, they pose serious risks to human health since some HABs release toxins that have been linked with neurodegenerative diseases.
Algae can be sensed in water by monitoring various parameters. One solution for early algae growth sensing is the development of a sensor for detecting the chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) concentration in a water body. Chl-a measurements are commonly used as a proxy for algal biomass and can indicate the state of a water body before a HAB episode occurs.
A low-cost, portable, and easy to use a device that can be deployed in multiple locations is designed allowing data collection from citizens. By inserting a small water sample in the device, it is able to indicate whether the water is safe for recreational use or not and also display the chlorophyll-a concentration level. Moreover, this data is crucial for water quality monitoring.
This is a device that can contribute to the mitigation of the negative effects of climate change by allowing measurements of the marine realm by the general public.