Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Fall 2020

Department 1

Environmental Studies


Harmful algae blooms (HABs) are a growing ecosystem health issue in environments worldwide, driven by excess nitrogen runoff (Eutrophication) alongside high summer temperatures. HABs strip oxygen from the environment and create toxic environments that impact other primary producers, fish, birds, mammals, reptiles, and any other organisms that enter an affected body of water. The purpose of this study is to analyze the impact of a new inlet, created by Hurricane Sandy in Long Island’s Bellport Bay, on the concentration of algae blooms during peak blooming periods (Jul-Aug) to inform ecosystem-based management. Google Earth Engine Code Editor and 2008-2017 Landsat 5-8 imagery correlated to the study area were used for imagery and data analysis. The colored infrared (CIR) before & after images of the study area clearly show the new inlet formation and shoal structure in Bellport Bay. Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) imagery analysis found a significant decrease in algae bloom concentration, in close proximity to the new inlet formations. Additionally, NDVI imagery analysis found that algae concentration decreased across nearly the entire Moriches and Shinnecock bays, partly due to their pre-existing inlets. This shift is attributed to the differences in local watershed characteristics and waste management strategies across the bays, over the time period of analysis. This study concludes that the formation of new inlets can be beneficial in lowering algae concentrations in appropriate coastal areas afflicted by HABs. However, the primary focus for reducing HABs in all environments must be reductions in anthropogenic nitrogen loading, driven by ineffective land and water management practices overtime.


Written for ES 363: Remote Sensing.