Can infrared technology be used to track blue-green algae?
Researchers determining exactly the kind of wavelengths needed to detect blue-green algae — not just algae
The Northern Ontario School of Medicine is partnering with Discovery Air Fire Services to research blue-green algae.
The green slime appears in lakes, and can produce toxins that can make people sick.
A professor with the school said the research will focus on where the blooms are happening — and where they move on a lake.
Greg Ross said infrared technology on planes is being used in the research.
"What we've done recently is demonstrated that those cameras, those sensors that are mounted on an aircraft, not only can see heat and a heat signature coming off a forest fire, but they can also be used to identify blue-green algae," he told CBC News.
Ross said accessing data by aircraft could allow researchers to be able to see if there is blue-green algae present on lakes around the entire city.
Ross said so far, the results look promising when it comes to reporting the algae, including "where it's going to be a problem, and giving people the opportunity to avoid it."
Currently researchers are determining exactly the types of wavelengths are needed to detect blue-green algae. To do this, they are growing the algae in tanks, so they can put their cameras to the test when it comes to detecting blue-green algae and not other species of algae.
Last week, the research project received $1 million from the province in funding to continue studying the topic.
With files from Martha Dillman. Edited/packaged by Wendy Bird.