Participatory surface algal bloom monitoring in Finland in 2011-2013

Ville Kotovirta (Corresponding Author), Timo Toivanen, Marko Järvinen, Matti Lindholm, Kari Kallio

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


    Algal mass occurrences are one of the most distinguishing effects of eutrophication in lakes and the coastal waters of the Baltic Sea. Algal bloom occurrence in water bodies varies greatly in terms of both space and time, even during short periods, which makes reliable monitoring of blooms difficult. In this paper, we explore the possibilities to extend the sensor network both spatially and temporally by applying participatory sensing to surface algal bloom monitoring in Finnish lakes and the coastal areas of the Baltic Sea.

    Two participatory sensing systems were used to collect visual algae observations by citizens: the mobile phone application Levävahti (Algae Watch) and the collaborative web service Järviwiki (Lake wiki), during the summers of 2011–2013. Citizen observations were compared with the visual observations performed by trained expert observers, and mean correlations between citizen and expert observations were calculated using the bootstrapping method: 0.72, 95% confidence interval (CI) [0.53 0.86]; 0.65, 95% CI [0.35 0.86]; and 0.56, 95% CI [0.29 0.76] for the years 2011, 2012 and 2013.

    Surface algal bloom monitoring is needed to obtain data on algal bloom frequency and intensity, in particular in lakes where the use of satellite remote sensing has limitations and/or phytoplankton monitoring is infrequent or totally lacking. The correlations between expert and citizen observations suggest that citizen observers can provide additional information to support algal bloom monitoring of inland and coastal waters.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number24
    JournalEnvironmental Systems Research
    Issue number24
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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