15167532_10155550734592942_7457241940939512643_oName: Heidi Watson-Trant

Project Title: “Integrating methods for the improved detection and tracking of harmful algal blooms in inland waters.”

Cohort: 2016/17


University of Stirling: https://www.stir.ac.uk/natural-sciences/about-us/bes/

Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH): http://www.ceh.ac.uk/

Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA): http://www.sepa.org.uk/


Dr. Peter Hunter (University of Stirling)

Prof. Andrew Tyler (University of Stirling)

Dr. Laurence Carvahlo (CEH)

Dr. Jan Krokowski (SEPA)


I graduated from Lancaster University in 2016 with an MSci Geography, First Class Honours (1:1) having studied an array of topics ranging from volcanology, hydrology and ecology. My current research involves integrating methods for the improved detection and tracking of harmful algal blooms. The project will use of observations from ESA’s state of-the-art copernicus Sentinel-2A/B MSI and Sentinel-3A/B OLCI sensors along with data from other high spatial resolution platforms such as Landsat-8 OLI, WorldView-2/3, Pleiades and SPOT-6/7 and, where possible, commercial missions such as WorldView-2/3. The satellites that will comprise this virtual constellation provide data at very different spatial, spectral and radiometric resolutions and thus one of the key challenges for this project will be to develop novel approaches for accommodating differences in sensor capability. This will not only necessitate the development and validation of algorithms for the quantitative retrieval of algal and cyanobacteria biomass but also semi-quantitative optical metrics for HABs that can readily generalise across platforms.

A detailed time-series analysis of HAB dynamics will be conducted for a number of lakes in the UK and internationally where satellite observations are complemented by the availability of high quality in situ data from existing monitoring programmes, instrumented buoys and/or citizen science observatories. This will be supported by regular field campaigns for the validation of ESA Sentinel-2 MSI and Sentinel-3 OLCI observations on small number of readily accessible UK lakes regularly subject to the occurrence of HABs. This validation work will involve the use of state-of the-art optical field instrumentation for measuring in- and abovewater optical properties in lakes. The data collected will evaluate the efficacy of different algorithms for HAB detection as well as establishing whether the temporal frequency of observations provided by a virtual constellation of satellites is sufficient to permit reliable detection and tracking of HABs in lakes in the UK and globally. More broadly, the results of this project will contribute to wider research on the development and validation of satellite data over inland waters through links with the NERC-funded GloboLakes project and the EC FP7-funded INFORM project as well as our existing involvement as a member of ESA’s Sentinel-3 Validation Team (S3VT). Moreover, the direct involvement of SEPA will ensure the results of this project contribute to future efforts to improve strategies for the monitoring and risk management of cyanobacterial blooms in the UK.

Publications/Conference talks/Posters:

05/06 Dec 2016 – University of Stirling Winter Symposium: ‘Integrating methods for the improved detection and tracking of harmful algal blooms’

Get in touch:

Email: heidi.watsontrant1@stir.ac.uk

Twitter: @HeidiW_T

Department webpage: http://www.stir.ac.uk/people/33611