Summary of GEOHAB Activities 2009-2010

The past 1.5 years has been very productive for GEOHAB in the area of publications and meetings convened.  Three special issues of journals and three GEOHAB reports have been published. The GEOHAB publication page shows the increase of GEOHAB peer-reviewed publications over the recent past. GEOHAB is up to about 10 reports from the program and is discussing distributing the set of reports on CD.


1. SSC Meeting: Honolulu, Hawaii (USA), June 2010

The GEOHAB SSC met in Honolulu, Hawaii, on 26-28 June 2010 and discussed all aspects of GEOHAB work. The meeting discussions included the following topics:


  • Review of all the status of all GEOHAB Core Research Projects
  • Recap of the outcomes from the Open Science Meeting (OSM) on HABs in Benthic Systems
  • Update on the progress of the Modeling Workshop special issue and report, and follow-on activities
  • Discussions of plans for GEOHAB completion at the end of 2013
  • Update on the joint activity with IOCCG planned for August 2010
  • Interactions with GOOS and the Intergovernmental Panel on Harmful Algal Blooms
  • Updates on regional, national, and GEOHAB-endorsed projects
  • GEOHAB Web site and publications, including other sites such as Wikipedia
  • Representation at meetings
  • SSC rotations

A summary of the meeting will be available on the GEOHAB Web site



2. Implementation of Core Research Projects

The GEOHAB Implementation Plan[1], published in November 2003, specified the formation of Core Research Projects (CRPs) related to four ecosystem types—upwelling systems, fjords and coastal embayments, eutrophic systems, and stratified systems. Since then, initiation and implementation of these CRPs has been the primary GEOHAB objective through OSMs and other activities. All four of the CRP research plans have now been completed.


A. Core Research Project: HABs in Upwelling Systems

This sub-group is chaired by Grant Pitcher (South Africa). The group published a series of synthesis papers in the journal Progress in Oceanography this year (2010). Current discussion involves whether to dissolve the CRP SSC and reconvene a new group of members to target some specific research goals in relation to HABs in upwelling systems.


B. Core Research Project: HABs in Fjords and Coastal Embayments

This sub-group is co-chaired by Allan Cembella (Germany) and Suzanne Roy (Canada). – Still? Their OSM took place in Viña del Mar, Chile on 26-29 April 2004. Their CRP Report was published in May 2010, and is available on the GEOHAB Web site (see


C. Core Research Project: HABs and Eutrophication

The sub-group on HABs and Eutrophication is chaired by Patricia Glibert (USA). The research plan for this CRP was published in 2006. The group held a 2nd GEOHAB OSM on HABs and Eutrophication in Beijing, China, overlapping with the 2009 SCOR Executive Committee meeting and immediately after the second meeting of SCOR/LOICZ WG 132 on Land-based Nutrient Pollution and the Relationship to Harmful Algal Blooms in Coastal Marine Systems. A brief overview of the meeting is shown at the GEOHAB Web page. The group is planning to meet in Crete in conjunction with the international HAB meeting in October, and may plan a third OSM in 2013.


D. Core Research Project: HABs and Stratification

The sub-group on HABs and Stratification was chaired by Patrick Gentien (France) until his death in June 2010, at which time Robin Raine (Ireland) took over as chair. The SSC discussed a new composition of the subcommittee for this CRP in order to proceed within the objectives and key questions indicated in the CRP report (completed in October 2008). The initial idea is that the subcommittee will discuss the next steps during the coming 6-12 months by email communication, and propose activities between now and completion of GEOHAB. The group may meet in Barcelona in the coming year.


E. Open Science Meeting on HABs in Benthic Systems (BHABs)

GEOHAB sponsored an OSM on HABs in Benthic Systems in Honolulu, Hawaii in June 2010, with Paul Bienfang as the convener. Benthic HABs, which include algae that contribute to ciguatera, are probably the most widespread of all algae-related poisonings. About 60 people attended.  A training workshop on identifying benthic HABs was held following the OSM and about 20 individuals attended. The OSM organizing committee is writing a report with the main contributions and open questions for the coming years in order to initiate and implement the CRP. An outline of the results will be also reported at the November 2010 International HAB meeting in Crete. There will also be a “town hall” style meeting on this CRP in Crete to announce the CRP to the broader HAB research community and entrain new participants in the CRP.


3. GEOHAB Modeling

A special issue of the Journal of Marine Systems with contributions from the GEOHAB Modeling Workshop (held in Galway, Ireland on 15-19 June 2009), edited by Dennis McGillicuddy, is in press. Sixteen papers are included in the special issue. In addition, a report will be finished soon, reporting on the discussion sessions at the workshop on key modeling aspects that need to be incorporated for the advances of the GEOHAB CRPs and regional/national projects. Complete information about the contributions of the meeting will continue to be available at The future modeling activities and subcommittee, within the GEOHAB structure, were also discussed at the SSC meeting. Icarus Allen is the new lead for GEOHAB modeling activities.


4. GEOHAB Asia

The Science Plan for GEOHAB research and cooperation in Asia was published in May (available at the GEOHAB webpage at The report was developed from meetings in 2007 in Japan and in 2008 in Vietnam. Songhui Lu and Gires Usup are the new members of the SSC involved on the development of the GEOHAB Asia activities. Usup will chair the GEOHAB Asia subcommittee.


5. GEOHAB Sunset

SCOR and IOC agreed to close the GEOHAB program at the end of 2013, ten years from the publication of the GEOHAB Implementation Plan. Discussions were begun on what would be appropriate final products. At this time, ideas include a summary of program accomplishments for a broad audience and/or an update of the HABWATCH book on HAB-observing technologies. The timeline and synthesis plan of GLOBEC is being considered as a model.  Different audiences for synthesis information from GEOHAB could include the scientific community, policymakers, and the public.  Potential products could include a summary for policymakers, a video, and/or a special issue of a journal.  There may be a final open science meeting in 2013.


6. 2010 SSC Meeting

The timing and location of the 2011 SSC meeting has not yet been decided, although the meeting may be held in the Southern Hemisphere, in conjunction with another meeting, and/or in a location that will advance the activities of GEOHAB CRPs.


7. IOCCG/GEOHAB Working Group

The International Ocean Colour Coordination Group and GEOHAB are co-funding a working group on HABs and Ocean Colour.  The group will


  • Summarise the relevance of ocean colour-based harmful algal bloom observation systems.
  • Summarise the wide variety of harmful algal bloom types with regard to ecosystem function, consistent with GEOHAB Core Research structures.
  • Summarise the principal methodological difficulties for ocean colour in coastal and inland waters, with reference to previous IOCCG Working Groups and other ongoing initiatives, e.g. GEO Tasks, CoastColour etc
  • Summarise our current understanding of the physics of phytoplankton community composition from a bio-optical and ocean colour perspective.
  • Review the relevance of Phytoplankton Functional Type (PFT) approaches (with reference to IOCCG PFT Working Group) for harmful algal bloom observations across a variety of coastal and inland ecosystems.
  • Review and summarise current and emerging harmful algal bloom related ocean colour techniques, from reflectance-based community composition algorithms to ecosystem-specific change-detection algorithms i.e. research and operational applications.
  • Compare the results of a variety of algorithms on selected bloom case studies, representative of the GEOHAB core research ecosystems with the specific addition of inland waters, and use these studies to provide a clear guide to ocean colour algorithm performance diagnostics, and optimal ocean colour-based approaches for various bloom and ecosystem types.
  • Examine the utility of ocean colour observations beyond the event scale: multi-sensor and -temporal analyses of ecological drivers and response for example systems, analysing and demonstrating the value of routine synoptic data and integration with other observations and models.
  • Recommendations concerning future studies, measurements, protocols etc to develop, improve and better understand application limitations for harmful algal bloom focused ocean colour algorithms
  • Summary, recommendations and future outlook for the development of new ocean colour observation systems, incorporating future sensors/systems.
  • Prepare a monograph to be published within the IOCCG or GEOHAB series.
  • Prepare a special issue in a peer-reviewed journal incorporating suitable review and case study chapters as papers.


8. Acknowledgements and Obituary

The GEOHAB SSC wants to express its kind remembrance about Patrick Gentien, the first GEOHAB chair and leader of the Stratified Systems CRP, who suddenly passed away in May. Furthermore, the present GEOHAB SSC acknowledges the great job of Robin Raine as chair of GEOHAB (2005-2009) and Ken Furuya (SSC member, 2003-2010), a key contributor to the GEOHAB Asia implementation. The new members of the SSC (Paul Bienfang (USA), Michelle Burford (Australia), Songhui Lu (China-Beijing), Gires Usup (Malaysia)) were welcomed to the SSC at the Hawaii meeting.

[1] GEOHAB. 2003. Global Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms, Implementation Plan. P. Gentien, G. Pitcher, A. Cembella and P. Glibert (eds.), SCOR and IOC, Baltimore and Paris, 36 pp.