A massive algal bloom captured by Envisat

Irish algae watch project wins European competition

The Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Forecast system has been selected the best Earth-monitoring service idea for European citizens in the Copernicus Masters competition.

Chosen by the highest number of voters in an on-line poll, the HAB Forecast system won in the Best Service Challenge Category of the Copernicus Masters competition run jointly by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Commission.

Essentially an online service that monitors water quality for the aquaculture industry, the HAB Forecast system idea was submitted to the competition by Julie Maguire from the Daithi O’Murchu Marine Research Station in Ireland.

The team will now benefit from a free access to commercial satellite data worth €40,000 to expand the business.

The HAB service provides a weekly web bulletin alerting fish farmers and regulators of harmful blooms of algae. It is the first forecast system of its kind that efficiently combines data from satellites, in-situ monitoring stations and biological and physical oceanic models.

Coming as the runner-up was the Landmap Spatial Discovery service providing web-based access to spatial data and e-learning materials for the academic community. The Smart Irrigation satellite monitoring system for agriculture took the third place. The tool helps farmers to optimise agricultural production through efficient irrigation based on the combination of remote sensing data and measurements from in-situ sensors.

The Best Service Challenge is one of nine categories of the Copernicus Masters competition rewarding the best ideas for services, business cases and applications based on satellite Earth observation data.

This particular Challenge aims to increase awareness of existing Earth-monitoring services and their benefits to European citizens.

The overall winner of the competition will be selected from the winners of the individual categories and will receive a €20,000 cash prize plus satellite data worth €60,000.

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