Remote sensing oceanography of a harmful algal bloom (HAB) off the coast of southeastern Vietnam

DanLing TANG, H Kawamura, Hai Doan-Nhu, W Takahashi , 2004. Remote sensing oceanography of a harmful algal bloom (HAB) off the coast of southeastern Vietnam. J. of Geophysical Research (Ocean).Vol 109, doi:10.1029/2003JC002045, 2004.


Harmful algal blooms (HABs) in the southeastern Vietnamese coastal waters have caused large economic losses in aquacultured and wild fisheries in recent years; however, there have been few oceanographic studies on these HAB events. The present study reports an extensive HAB off southeastern Vietnamese waters during late June to July 2002 with in situ observations and analyzes the oceanographic conditions using satellite remote sensing data. The HAB had high chlorophyll a (Chl a) concentrations (up to 4.5 mg m−3) occurring ∼200 km off the coast and ∼200 km northeast of the Mekong River mouth for a period of ∼6 weeks. The bloom was dominated by the harmful algae haptophyte Phaeocystis cf. globosa and caused a very significant mortality of aquacultured fish and other marine life. In the same period, sea surface temperature (SST) imagery showed a cold water plume extending from the coast to the open sea, and QuikScat data showed strong southwesterly winds blowing parallel to the coastline. This study indicated that the HAB was induced and supported by offshore upwelling that brings nutrients from the deep ocean to the surface and from coastal water to offshore water and that the upwelling was driven by strong wind through Ekman transport when winds were parallel to the coastline. This study demonstrated the possibility of utilizing a combination of satellite data of Chl a, SST, and wind velocity together with coastal bathymetric information and in situ observations to give a better understanding of the biological oceanography of HABs.


  • harmful algal bloom (HAB);
  • satellite remote sensing;
  • upwelling;
  • SeaWiFS;
  • chlorophyll a;
  • South China Sea