A novel single-parameter approach for forecasting algal blooms

Xi Xiao, Junyu He, Haomin Huang, Todd R. Miller, George Christakos, Elke S. Reichwaldt, Anas Ghadouani, Shengpan Lin, Xinhua Xu, Jiyan Shi

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    94 Citations (Scopus)


    Harmful algal blooms frequently occur globally, and forecasting could constitute an essential proactive strategy for bloom control. To decrease the cost of aquatic environmental monitoring and increase the accuracy of bloom forecasting, a novel single-parameter approach combining wavelet analysis with artificial neural networks (WNN) was developed and verified based on daily online monitoring datasets of algal density in the Siling Reservoir, China and Lake Winnebago, U.S.A. Firstly, a detailed modeling process was illustrated using the forecasting of cyanobacterial cell density in the Chinese reservoir as an example. Three WNN models occupying various prediction time intervals were optimized through model training using an early stopped training approach. All models performed well in fitting historical data and predicting the dynamics of cyanobacterial cell density, with the best model predicting cyanobacteria density one-day ahead (r = 0.986 and mean absolute error = 0.103 × 104 cells mL−1). Secondly, the potential of this novel approach was further confirmed by the precise predictions of algal biomass dynamics measured as chl a in both study sites, demonstrating its high performance in forecasting algal blooms, including cyanobacteria as well as other blooming species. Thirdly, the WNN model was compared to current algal forecasting methods (i.e. artificial neural networks, autoregressive integrated moving average model), and was found to be more accurate. In addition, the application of this novel single-parameter approach is cost effective as it requires only a buoy-mounted fluorescent probe, which is merely a fraction (∼15%) of the cost of a typical auto-monitoring system. As such, the newly developed approach presents a promising and cost-effective tool for the future prediction and management of harmful algal blooms.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)222-231
    Number of pages10
    JournalWater Research
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


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