Satellites-Based Monitoring of Harmful Algal Blooms for Sustainable Desalination

Maryam R. Al Shehhi, Imen Gherboudj, Mohamed Hosni Ghedira

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The presence of harmful algal blooms (HABs) in the areas surrounding the intakes of desalination plants makes the seawater desalination process quite challenging. HABs, also known as red tide, are caused by the presence of large concentrations of harmful aquatic microorganisms where the bloom takes on a red or brown color. HABs are generally associated with the production of natural toxins that lead to the depletion of dissolved oxygen and cause wildlife mortalities of marine and coastal species. The occurrence frequency of HAB outbreaks has increased significantly in the past few decades. The effects of HABs on water desalination include (but not limited to) affecting the quality of the produced water, obstruction to coagulation, clogging of filters, and bio-filming. In many cases, HAB outbreak events have caused the shutdown of desalination plant operation for extended periods of time. Removal of HAB species from the desalination process seems to be an obvious solution to this problem, but their sudden eruption and a lack of preparedness represent the major challenges facing desalination plant operators. Consequently, an early algal bloom detection tool is required in order to perform operational changes and maintain the desired production capacity. Remote sensing, combined with hydrodynamic modeling systems, can be an alternative solution, which can detect the outbreak of HABs from space and monitor and forecast their evolution in space and time. This chapter will provide a comprehensive review of the historical HAB outbreaks and their effects on desalination plant operation. It will also provide an overview on how earth observation techniques could improve the emergency response and preparedness of desalination plants and how these techniques could help in reducing and mitigating the impact of HABs on the operation of desalination plants in affected areas.

Original languageBritish English
Title of host publicationDesalination Sustainability
Subtitle of host publicationA Technical, Socioeconomic, and Environmental Approach
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9780128098967
StatePublished - 15 Jun 2017


  • Desalination
  • Earth observation
  • Fresh water
  • Harmful algal blooms
  • Red tide
  • Remote sensing
  • Satellites


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