Why is an International Programme Needed?

A great deal is known about harmful algae and HABs, but the existing ability to describe the factors controlling the dynamics of individual species is limited by critical gaps in knowledge about the physiological, behavioural, and morphological characteristics of algae. Thus, the central research problem is to understand and quantify the critical features and mechanisms underlying the population dynamics of HAB species in a variety of oceanographic regimes.

This understanding can be used as a basis for monitoring, modelling, and predicting the occurrence, movement, toxicity, and environmental effects of HABs. In turn, monitoring and prediction are essential for management and mitigation of HABs. Since HAB species are found in marine and brackish-water ecosystems worldwide, the central research problem can only be addressed comprehensively and effectively through international, interdisciplinary, and comparative research on the dynamics of HABs within their oceanographic and ecological systems.

Progress depends upon advancement through targeted studies and technological innovation in biology, ecology, chemical and physical oceanography, modelling, and ocean observation.The first step in the process of developing this program was an international workshop sponsored by SCOR and IOC which took place near Copenhagen, Denmark, from 13 to 17 October 1998. Thirty-seven scientists from twenty countries participated. The report of that workshop provided the basis for adoption of GEOHAB as a new joint programme by IOC and SCOR.