Nav: Home

'Nowcasting' beach water quality

July 18, 2018

Arriving at your favorite beach only to discover it's closed because of bacterial contamination can be a bummer. But even worse would be unknowingly swimming in waters polluted with fecal material -- a very real possibility, given that current detection methods can require up to 24 hours to obtain results. Now, researchers reporting in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology have identified computer models that provide accurate short-term forecasts, or "nowcasts," of beach water quality.

The number of beach closings due to fecal microbes has risen in recent years. In the U.S., beaches in the Great Lakes region rank high among those with the worst problems. According to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, 30 beaches in the state were either closed or had advisories associated with them in early July 2018 because of high bacteria levels. Collecting water samples and then analyzing them in the lab takes time, even with modern techniques, which puts swimmers at risk of infection with nasty stomach bugs while testing is ongoing. But computer simulations for predicting water quality are complex and not always reliable. Jie Niu and Mantha S. Phanikumar wondered if they could identify simpler computer models that could accurately predict current beach conditions from past data.

The researchers compared the abilities of five computer models to nowcast bacterial levels at four sites in Southern Lake Michigan. The models varied in the number of input parameters, from only past levels of bacteria at the sites, to more complex data, such as daily rainfall, water temperature and water turbidity. The team found that the two best models incorporated past bacterial levels and several of the other parameters. However, a new model developed by the researchers also performed well. This approach, which combined two techniques called wavelet transform and artificial neural network analysis, required only bacterial data from the past, with no additional inputs. The researchers concluded that the new model is a potentially useful tool for beach management, especially when detailed data on beach conditions aren't available.
-end-
The authors acknowledge funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

The abstract that accompanies this study is available here.

The American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, is a not-for-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS is a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journal and scientific conferences. ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.

Follow us on Twitter | Facebook

American Chemical Society

Related Data Articles:

Storing data in music
Researchers at ETH Zurich have developed a technique for embedding data in music and transmitting it to a smartphone.
Life data economics: calling for new models to assess the value of human data
After the collapse of the blockchain bubble a number of research organisations are developing platforms to enable individual ownership of life data and establish the data valuation and pricing models.
Geoscience data group urges all scientific disciplines to make data open and accessible
Institutions, science funders, data repositories, publishers, researchers and scientific societies from all scientific disciplines must work together to ensure all scientific data are easy to find, access and use, according to a new commentary in Nature by members of the Enabling FAIR Data Steering Committee.
Democratizing data science
MIT researchers are hoping to advance the democratization of data science with a new tool for nonstatisticians that automatically generates models for analyzing raw data.
Getting the most out of atmospheric data analysis
An international team including researchers from Kanazawa University used a new approach to analyze an atmospheric data set spanning 18 years for the investigation of new-particle formation.
Ecologists ask: Should we be more transparent with data?
In a new Ecological Applications article, authors Stephen M. Powers and Stephanie E.
Should you share data of threatened species?
Scientists and conservationists have continually called for location data to be turned off in wildlife photos and publications to help preserve species but new research suggests there could be more to be gained by sharing a rare find, rather than obscuring it, in certain circumstances.
Using light for next-generation data storage
Tiny, nano-sized crystals of salt encoded with data using light from a laser could be the next data storage technology of choice, following research by Australian scientists.
Futuristic data storage
The development of high-density data storage devices requires the highest possible density of elements in an array made up of individual nanomagnets.
Making data matter
The advent of 3-D printing has made it possible to take imaging data and print it into physical representations, but the process of doing so has been prohibitively time-intensive and costly.
More Data News and Data Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

In & Out Of Love
We think of love as a mysterious, unknowable force. Something that happens to us. But what if we could control it? This hour, TED speakers on whether we can decide to fall in — and out of — love. Guests include writer Mandy Len Catron, biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, musician Dessa, One Love CEO Katie Hood, and psychologist Guy Winch.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#543 Give a Nerd a Gift
Yup, you guessed it... it's Science for the People's annual holiday episode that helps you figure out what sciency books and gifts to get that special nerd on your list. Or maybe you're looking to build up your reading list for the holiday break and a geeky Christmas sweater to wear to an upcoming party. Returning are pop-science power-readers John Dupuis and Joanne Manaster to dish on the best science books they read this past year. And Rachelle Saunders and Bethany Brookshire squee in delight over some truly delightful science-themed non-book objects for those whose bookshelves are already full. Since...
Now Playing: Radiolab

An Announcement from Radiolab