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NASA Needs Help To Find Algal Blooms & They Will Pay You To Find Them; Know More

NASA is offering cash prizes for help in finding algal blooms in satellite images. The competition is named "Tick Tick Bloom".


Image: AP

NASA is offering cash prizes for help in finding algal blooms in satellite images. The competition, named "Tick Tick Bloom," is asking participants to look at satellite images of inland water bodies and to classify algal blooms based on severity if they are present, NASA said in a statement. The competition offers a $12,000 first prize, with $9,000 and $6,000 being offered to the second and third-place winners, respectively. Additionally, first and second bonus prize winners will receive $2,000 and $1,000.

Algal blooms are mass growths of microscopic algae or phytoplankton, usually caused by an influx of nutrients. When these blooms occur in inland water bodies, they can cause damage to marine ecosystems due to the blocking of sunlight and depletion of oxygen in the water. Cyanobacterial algal blooms can also produce toxins, which can be dangerous to humans and wildlife.

Toxins can lead to skin irritation 

These toxins can lead to flu-like symptoms, skin irritation, abnormal breathing, gastrointestinal symptoms, and even paralysis in humans, the report stated. Seizures and death may occur in pets, due to their smaller mass. These toxins can also lead to neurological problems in wild animals, causing unusual behaviours. NASA is looking to use this competition to train computers to recognise the signs of algal blooms in satellite images, making it easier to detect and monitor these blooms on a large scale.

The formation of Algae blooms

Algal blooms are a phenomenon that occurs when there is a rapid growth of microscopic algae or phytoplankton in a water body. These blooms can happen in both fresh and salt water bodies, and can have a variety of causes. One of the main causes of algal blooms is an excess of nutrients in the water. These nutrients can come from a variety of sources, including agricultural runoff, sewage discharge, and even natural sources such as rivers flowing into the ocean. When these nutrients enter a water body, they can provide a fertile environment for algae to grow, leading to a bloom.

Another factor that can contribute to algal blooms is the presence of certain types of algae that are particularly well-suited to thrive in certain conditions. For example, some species of cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, can thrive in warm and shallow water bodies, leading to blooms in these conditions. Climate change also plays a role in the formation of algal blooms. Rising water temperatures and changes in precipitation patterns can create conditions that are more favorable for certain types of algae to grow.

In addition to these factors, algal blooms can also be caused by human activities. For example, the overuse of fertilizers in agriculture can lead to excess nutrients flowing into water bodies, creating the ideal conditions for a bloom. Similarly, discharge of sewage into water bodies can also contribute to algal blooms by providing an excess of nutrients for the algae to grow. Once an algal bloom has formed, it can have a number of negative impacts on the ecosystem. The blooms can block sunlight from reaching the water, leading to the death of aquatic plants and animals. They can also consume oxygen in the water, leading to the suffocation of fish and other aquatic life.

Image: AP