HABs 2012

Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs)

Many arid countries are increasingly reliant on seawater desalination for drinking water and industrial purposes. An emerging threat to this critical societal need is from harmful algal blooms (HABs). Some HABs produce potent neurotoxins that can persist in treated water, threatening human health. Other HABs restrict operations by clogging intake filters, fouling surfaces, and compromising membranes.Impacts can be severe, as seen during a 2008/2009 HAB in the Gulf of Oman that negatively affected multiple desalination plants, including one that had to cease operations for 55 days.MEDRC is part of the global effort to combat the effects of HABs.

MEDRC HABs Knowledge Exchange

In collaboration with international partners including the Public Authority for Electricity and Water of Oman and the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission MEDRC ran a major international Conference on Harmfull Algae Blooms & Desalination in Muscat in 2014. This built on our earlier expert workshops and research support on the issue.

MEDRC Leading Major International HABs Research Project

MEDRC is coordinating a global research effort to develop capabilities for remote sensing, modeling, and forecasting to provide critical information to desalination plants about the presence and predicted transport pathways of algal blooms that occur in nearby coastal waters, and will provide operators with practical guidance on how to deal with these events as they occur.

The Initial focus of the remote sensing and forecasting effort will be along the coasts of Oman and the eastern UAE. To demonstrate the feasibility and utility of the approach, desalination plants in Barka and Fujairah will work with the team by providing historical operational data from past HAB events and, in the final phase of the project, real-time data as well.

MEDRC is working with leading researchers and institutions from Oman, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States. This project builds on the work and proceedings of the International Conference on the Impact of Red Tides and Harmful Algae Blooms that MEDRC, in partnership with the Oman Public Authority of Power and Water and UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, held in April 2014 in Muscat.

The Principal Investigator for the project at MEDRC is Senior Science and Technology Adviser Kevin Price who will work with a team of international HAB scientists with expertise in HAB dynamics, remote sensing and numerical modeling and forecasting. Direct project funding of more than $650,000 has been provided by USAID with many of the participating institutions making significant in-kind contributions.

HABs 2014


Presentations available below:


Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs)

Dr Don Anderson (Wood Hole Oceanographic Institution)

April 2014
An Overview of Seawater Intakes Pretreatment and Desalination 

Tom Pankratz

April 2014
Review of SWRO design strategies to cope with HABs  Sophie Bertrand April 2014
The effect of algal organic matter and transparent exopolymer particles (TEP) on RO membranes during algal blooms  Harvey Winters, Sheng Li, Gary Amy (KAUST, Water Desalination and Reuse Center (WDRC) April 2014

Impact of algal blooms on UF pre-treatment and SWRO

M.D KennedyApril

April 2014

Red tides and desalination, removal of toxins and T&O compounds 

Dr Mike Dixon

April 2014

UF pretreatment for desalination during algal blooms: Negative effects of stress and benefits of hybridised systems Adhikara Resosudarmo, Yun Ye, Pierre Le-Clech, Vicki Chen (UNESCO Centre for Membrane Science and Technology

School of Chemical Engineering,
The University of New South Wales)

April 2014




HABs 2016

Presentations available below:

Coupling remote sensing imagery and numerical modeling for HAB forecasting

Dr Richard Stumpf (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

January 2016 
 Using the numerical model  

RubaoJi (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

January 2016
Numerical model development and present capabilities for hindcast and forecast  Rubao Ji (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Changsheng Chen (University of Massachusetts Dartmouth)

January 2016
Combatting the emerging impacts of harmdul algal blooms (HABs) on desalination plants: bloom detection, forecasting and strategies for impact reduction Dr Don Anderson (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) January 2016

Remote sensing for detection and characterization of HABs


Raphael Kudela (University of California Santa Cruz)

January 2016

Remote sensing techniques for HABs


Raphael Kudela (University of California)

RickStumpf (US NOAA)

January 2016


Download 2014 HABs conference proceedings