Human Health & Safety

A key GCOOS priority is developing the tools and information needed to empower people, communities and businesses to improve decision-making about our lives as we work, live and play along the Gulf Coast. Toxic algae, oil spills, severe weather, dangerous currents and coastal land loss are major threats to human health and safety in the Gulf.


For instance:

  • Harmful algal blooms like the red tides caused by Karenia brevis (K. brevis) in the Gulf of
    Mexico, can have a devastating impact on coastal communities, where severe blooms can
    cause millions of dollars in tourism losses and send people with chronic respiratory diseases to emergency rooms. In Texas, a single harmful algal bloom cost the oyster industry $10 million in lost revenues.
  • Nearly 400 named tropical storms and hurricanes have formed in the Atlantic basin since
    1890, with many of the most intense and costliest storms making landfall in the five Gulf states. Hurricane Katrina left 1,800 people dead in 2005 and caused an estimated $108 billion in economic damage.

Goal 1

Improve reporting of harmful algal blooms in near-shore and coastal waters.

Goal 2

Expand the high-frequency radar network throughout the Gulf.

Goal 3

Develop a centralized data portal for all water quality and beach quality data.

Goal 4

Provide near real-time air and sea surface temperatures at an increased spatial
resolution to better track long-term temperature trends related to climate change.