EPA launches web-based HAB warning system

July 27, 2021
The new CyANWeb will use satellite imagery, updated daily or weekly, to help prevent and stifle harmful algal blooms for over 2,000 of the largest lakes or reservoirs in the nation.

Last week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced via press release the launch of a new web-based early warning system against harmful algal blooms (HABs).

Named CyANWeb, the tool can help federal, state, tribal and local partners identify when a HAB may be forming where people swim, fish, and boat. The tool uses satellite imagery to alert users based on specific changes in the color of the water in over 2,000 of the largest lakes and reservoirs across the United States.

Cyanobacteria overfed by nutrients via runoff can form potentially toxic HABs, which can become an incredibly costly issue. CyANWeb, developed by the Cyanobacteria Assessment Network (CyAN) with input from users across the country, makes cyanobacteria satellite data more accessible to water quality managers, communities, and anyone interested in knowing more about water quality in their area.

“Making this satellite data available across more platforms will improve our ability to respond to harmful algal blooms,” said Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development and the EPA Science Advisor. “The release of this update is another step towards ensuring the quality of our nation’s drinking and recreational waters.”

CyANWeb uses historical and current satellite data to develop daily and weekly images that serve as an early warning system for HABs. These images can help federal, state, Tribal, and local partners in their efforts to monitor and assess water quality. They can also help lake managers and people who swim, fish, or boat in lakes identify when a HAB may be forming. CyANWeb is easy to use and has features that let users view comparisons of multiple water bodies over time, as well asmark locations for future reference.

Users can access CyANWeb with the help of a desktop computer, tablet, smart phone, and most other internet-browsing devices. CyANWeb uses satellite data that was previously only available within the CyAN Android™ app EPA released in 2019. CyAN Android™ is available for download in the Google Play™ store for Android™ devices.

EPA researchers developed CyANWeb as the latest effort stemming from the CyAN partnership with researchers at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

For more information on EPA’s CyANWeb: www.epa.gov/water-research/cyanapp

SOURCE: Environmental Protection Agency