Third Wednesday: Amber Ignatius (US EPA) and CyAN


Third Wednesday: Amber Ignatius (US EPA) and CyAN

On August 16, 2017, the River Basin Center hosted its first Third Wednesday Symposium of the fall semester.  Dr. Amber Ignatius came to speak about her work with the U.S. EPA on the Cyanobacteria Assessment Network (CyAN).  Commonly called “blue-green algae,” cyanobacteria are photosynthesizing bacteria that are capable of blooms where the right balance of nutrients triggers an explosion of cyanobacteria growth.  These blooms have the potential to harm both wildlife and human populations, since many cyanobacteria produce toxins that are released under bloom conditions and subsequently affect aquatic animals directly and terrestrial animals, including humans, indirectly via consumption of exposed animals or tainted water.

Amber Ignatius describes the portion of spectrum used by her project to identify cyanobacteria blooms.

The CyAN project, a multi-agency effort of NASA, NOAA, USGS, and EPA, uses satellite imagery to identify cyanobacteria blooms and their intensity. Researchers have developed software that uses infrared signals to identify blooms and, with a finer resolution than similar programs, is able to analyze over a thousand bodies of water in the United States that have not been studied using remote sensing before.

This network’s data can be used by researchers and decision-makers to better understand how bodies of water are being affected by cyanobacteria.  Dr. Ignatius has been most involved in the development of decision support for this program, so she is excited about the associated programs, including a mobile app and a dashboard on EnviroAtlas, that will give the public access to accurate and updated information about cyanobacteria blooms in large bodies of water.

The River Basin Center hosts monthly “Third Wednesday” symposia during spring and fall semesters.  Please check the calendar for upcoming dates and topics.