Toward long-range beach forecasts on bacterial contamination

Jun 30, 2008
Toward long-range beach forecasts on bacterial contamination
Scientists are reporting development of a water quality prediction method so that vacationers can better plan beach holidays. Courtesy of public-domain-photos.com

Long-range forecasts of beach bacterial contamination are inching closer to reality because of a new water quality prediction method scheduled for publication in the July 15 issue of the ACS' Environmental Science & Technology.

"For the first time, this study showed that bacteria concentrations could be forecasted with reasonable accuracy, hastening the day when people will be able to better plan their beach holidays," the report says.

In the new study, Walter E. Frick and colleagues explain that decisions on whether beaches are safe for swimming, or should be closed due to fecal contamination, are based on testing the water for E. coli.

However, existing tests take 24 hours to complete, providing a backward-only look at conditions the previous day. As a result, beaches may be closed unnecessarily when water quality has improved, or open when water quality has declined and disease-causing microorganisms are present.

Building on pioneering modeling studies in the Great Lakes by the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) and others, the researchers developed "Virtual Beach," a broadly-applicable software tool for the development of models that predict concentrations of indicators of fecal contamination at beaches.

Unique features of Virtual Beach are the ability to evaluate a dynamic modeling approach for using short-term data sets to rapidly develop reliable models, and the use of available weather and marine forecast variables to forecast E. coli levels 24 hours or more in advance.

Evaluations of Virtual Beach were accomplished using data collected by USGS, NOAA and other sources for Huntington Beach on Lake Erie in northeastern Ohio. During the 42-day study, models developed by Virtual Beach correctly forecasted 24 hours in advance eight instances when E. coli levels exceeded safety standards. These results exceeded the accuracy of traditional sampling methods and approximately matched the accuracy of nowcasting (real-time predictions), according to the researchers.

Source: ACS

Explore further: NOAA establishes 'tipping points' for sea level rise related flooding

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Surrogate sushi: Japan biotech for bluefin tuna

Nov 20, 2014

Of all the overfished fish in the seas, luscious, fatty bluefin tuna are among the most threatened. Marine scientist Goro Yamazaki, who is known in this seaside community as "Young Mr. Fish," is working to ...

Body by smartphone

Jul 30, 2014

We love our smartphones. Since they marched out of the corporate world and into the hands of consumers about 10 years ago, we've relied more and more on our iPhone and Android devices to organize our schedules, ...

US hosts talks to save oceans under 'siege'

Jun 15, 2014

US Secretary of State John Kerry launches an unprecedented global effort Monday to save the world's oceans under siege from overfishing, climate change and pollution.

Recommended for you

UN sends team to clean up Bangladesh oil spill

13 hours ago

The United Nations said Thursday it has sent a team of international experts to Bangladesh to help clean up the world's largest mangrove forest, more than a week after it was hit by a huge oil spill.

How will climate change transform agriculture?

13 hours ago

Climate change impacts will require major but very uncertain transformations of global agriculture systems by mid-century, according to new research from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

Report: Radiation leak at nuclear dump was small

13 hours ago

A final report by independent researchers shows the radiation leak from the federal government's underground nuclear waste repository in southern New Mexico was small and localized.

Confucian thought and China's environmental dilemmas

17 hours ago

Conventional wisdom holds that China - the world's most populous country - is an inveterate polluter, that it puts economic goals above conservation in every instance. So China's recent moves toward an apparent ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.