Skyline Earth Team explores harmful algal blooms and welcomes two new interns

Skyline Earth Team is joined by two new interns and the team begins collecting data for their research project exploring why Harmful Algal Blooms occur in some Bay Area waterbodies but not in others.

Earth Team is taking several intern teams to present research at this year’s GLOBE Student Research Symposia. Skyline Earth Team is one such group and focused February on defining their research project. The team also welcomed two new interns who jumped into helping the team collect data for the research project.

Early in the month, the team decided on the focus for their research. They decided to explore why Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) occur in some waterbodies in the East Bay but not in others.

An interns tests the dissolved oxygen levels in Sausal Creek.

The team decided to collect data at Lake Chabot, Lake Merritt and Sausal Creek in Dimond Park. The interns collect water quality data, including pH, temperature, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, alkalinity and nitrates following GLOBE protocols.

Interns check the turbidity of the water at Lake Merritt.

The interns also pick-up trash, collecting data on the amount of litter at each location using the Marine Debris Tracker app. The interns will look to see if there is a relationship between amount of litter, water quality and presence of HAB.

Interns testing Lake Merritt’s water quality.

For HAB data, the interns brainstormed a list of agencies in the Bay Area that may have already collected data on algal blooms. Earth Team then reached out to these organizations and were pointed towards various online data sets, including the HAB Incidents Report Map. The interns will extract the relevant data from these resources to use in their research. Interns will also use an ID guide to collect their own data on the presence of HABs at their study sites.

Skyline interns after collecting data at Lake Chabot.

The Earth Team interns will continue collecting data for the next few meetings before analyzing the data in March. The interns will then work together to discuss their results and create recommendations for the future. In May, a group of Skyline interns will present their findings and conclusions at the Student Research Symposia at Moss Landing. Not only are the interns discovering critical information about watershed health in the East Bay, they are also developing skills that will contribute to their success in their pursuit of careers in STEM.

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