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Leveraging 10 years of satellite data to support marine insurance and decision making

30 November 2017
Drs Hayley Evers-King, Peter Miller and Andrey Kurekin, Earth Observation scientists at Plymouth Marine Laboratory, provide a summary of their work on analysing trends in harmful algal bloom (HAB) occurrences.

The power of satellite data lies in its ability to observe ocean processes that occur over large scales in time and space. Thanks to a legacy of sensors, we now have in excess of 10 years of high quality data on the ocean colour. This data can be used to tell us about the occurrence of HABs around the UK during the last few decades.

The 2nd phase of the ShellEye project is taking this time series of data and developing products with the marine insurance industry and other decision makers. The first step will be to use the classification methods developed during phase one of the ShellEye project to map where high risk HAB events have been estimated. The classification method has been trained using sampled measurements of actual blooms that have occurred, which is absolutely essential for this process, and more data is always being sought.

Once trained, this method can then be used with new images to estimate where blooms could be occurring, based on the relationships observed between the blooms and the water colour detected by the satellites. This allows for near real-time monitoring where we are unable to collect measurements in the water. In addition, analysis of the long time-series of these risk maps will also help us to understand when and where HABs occur most frequently around the UK. The ultimate aim of this part of the ShellEye project will be to produce metrics and to visualise this data in meaningful ways for stakeholders, particularly in the insurance industry.