Public Release: 

One step closer to prediction: Baltimore to host international scientific meeting

University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

BALTIMORE (March 1, 2004) -- Fish kills, seafood toxins and ecosystem damage worldwide: harmful algal blooms - such as Pfiesteria - have been at the center of controversy as the number of outbreaks around the globe appears to be on the rise.

Excess nutrient loading to water bodies, also known as eutrophication, is recognized as a key factor contributing to the increasing proliferation of harmful algal blooms. More than 100 scientists from 12 different countries will gather in Baltimore from March 7 to 10 and discuss eutrophication's role in harmful algal blooms and design the next phase of comparative research necessary to address this critical global issue.

The four-day scientific conference will be held at the Radisson Hotel at Cross Keys, and is designed to bring together the top experts from around the world to review existing research on eutrophication and harmful algal blooms. The meeting is being convened by the Global Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms (GEOHAB) Programme, an international organization of scientists aimed at fostering and promoting cooperative research directed toward improving the prediction of harmful algal bloom events.

From Chesapeake Bay to China, more than 40 scientists will present their latest research on harmful algal blooms during the conference -- the third in a series of international GEOHAB meetings and the only such meeting to be held in the U.S.

Some highlights of the conference include:

  • Hurricane Charley: coastal nutrification and algal blooms;
  • monitoring methods for shellfish poisoning in Scottish coastal waters;
  • new technologies for assessing water quality in Chesapeake Bay and Maryland's tidewaters;
  • influence of monsoons on Hong Kong's red tides;
  • comparative analysis of nutrient cycling and phytoplankton communities in Florida and Australia;
  • coastal applications of ocean observing systems; and
  • environmental assessments of Kuwait's waters.

    Full details of the program are available for review at

    NOTE: Registration fees for interested media will be waived, but pre-registration is required. Please contact Kirsten Frese, at 410/228-9250 x614 for more information.

    Initiated under the auspices of the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, GEOHAB's aims to apply combined experimental, observational, and modeling approaches, using current and innovative technologies in a multidisciplinary approach consistent with the multiple scales and oceanographic complexity of harmful algal bloom phenomena. GEOHAB is an evolving network of scientific activities, with program growth dependent on national and international research priorities, investigator interest, methodological capabilities, and availability of funding and other resources.

    The next GEOHAB meeting, to take place December in Paris, will focus on blooms and stratification. Previous meetings have examined blooms in upwelling systems (2003), fjords (2004) and coastal embayments (2004).


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