Remote Sensing of Seaweed Movements Enhanced by French and Texas A&M Galveston Collaboration

Dr. Alain Mermet, the scientific attaché at the General Consulate of France in Houston, visited Texas A&M University at Galveston to plan a research program that will improve the ability to predict the movement and severity of seaweed landings on beaches from the Caribbean islands to the Gulf Coast.

The research is based on the Sargassum Early Advisory System (SEAS), a predictive model developed at Texas A&M Galveston.  A workshop involving French and U.S. scientists will convene in Galveston in the Spring of 2017.

The French Government is interested in this collaboration because the French islands in the Caribbean, specifically Martinique & Guadeloupe, were overwhelmed with landings of Sargassum in 2015 as Galveston was in 2014.  Texas A&M Galveston, through its SEAS predictive model, provides them with an early warning system that helps them prepare in advance to deal with Sargassum landings.  It is a predictive tool that only Texas A&M Galveston provides.

At the heart of the SEAS system is satellite imagery provided by LandSat satellites.  However, in 1977 the French Government initiated the first European Earth-observation satellite program, SPOT (Satellites Pour l 'Observation de la Terre').

"Because of its high resolution pictures, SPOT has become one of the most sophisticated Earth observation satellites of its time," said Dr. Tom Linton, instructional assistant professor of Marine Sciences at Texas A&M Galveston and the head of the SEAS project.  "This collaborative program would allow Texas A&M Galveston to gain access to higher resolution images produced by SPOT."

"Since we have determined a means as to how and when Sargassum will arrive, as it did in 2014 on Galveston, the next question is why did it not arrive on Galveston in 2015 or 2016.  That is the question we hope to research in cooperation with the French scientists," said Linton.