MONISARG Project Update #01 – MGI AND ITS PARTNERS AWARDED United Kingdom Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) Urgency Grant

What is ‘“Monitoring a large Sargassum bloom subject to a major volcanic eruption”, (MONISARG)?

The Mona Geoinformatics Institute (MGI) has partnered with the University of Southampton (UoS) and The Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) on an environmental project, MONISARG, which aims at understanding variations in Sargassum inundation within the Caribbean region following the eruption of the La Soufrière volcano in St. Vincent.

Figure 1 Sargassum beaching on Long Bay, eastern Jamaica during June 2021 Photo credit: Darren Fletcher

The eruption has had widespread impact across the region including deposition of significant quantities of Sulphur Dioxide across the region. The large Sulphur Dioxide plume seen across the Caribbean coincides with a substantial Sargassum bloom situated around the Lesser Antilles which encapsulates a remarkable combination of natural events across the region.

Figure 2 Alternative Floating Algae Index highlighting Sargassum influx around Jamaica, Barbados and St. Vincent April 1st – 5th, 2021 (University of South Florida, consolidated by Marsh, 2021)
Figure 3 Satellite-based measurements of Sulphur Dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere on April 11th , 2021, (detected by Copernicus satellite) show the wide extent of plumes from Soufrière volcano, St. Vincent, spanning the eastern Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean (image: @PlatformAdam/twitter)
Figure 4 Beached Sargassum seen in Manchioneal, Portland, Jamaica SOURCE: Mona GeoInformatics Institute, 2021


  1. MONITORING. Monitor developing Sargassum blooms and ash plumes, using satellite images, of the Soufrière St. Vincent volcanic eruption.
  2. DEPLOYMENT AND TRACKING. Deploy GPS drifters into selected Sargassum rafts near Barbados and to the east of Jamaica, with 12 months telemetry subscription, analysed alongside local ‘drifters of opportunity’ from the Global Drifter Program, continuing to track GPS drifters throughout the project.
  3. VALIDATION. Carry out targeted drone-based and visual inspection fieldwork to ground truth remote-sensed imagery of Sargassum around the coasts of Barbados and Jamaica

MGI’s Role

MGI, the leading organization in Jamaica providing advanced Geographic Information Systems solutions and complex data mapping, has been tasked with providing insights into monitoring Sargassum inundation for the monitoring sites of Kensington and Manchioneal, Portland through the following objectives:

Figure 5 MGI Field Team flying a Phantom Pro V2 along the monitoring site of Kensington in Portland

• Detection and quantification of Sargassum beaching events

MGI has been tasked with monitoring and quantifying Sargassum beaching events through weekly visits to monitoring sites of Kensington and Manchioneal in Portland, Jamaica. The field team will use novel and innovative techniques, such as the use of Near Infrared (NIR) drone imagery, in their monitoring activities.

• Deployment of trackers offshore, Jamaica
This work will involve deploying SPOT Trace GPS trackers up to 10km offshore Manchioneal, Portland, Jamaica for long term monitoring of ocean currents around our shore and their influence on Sargassum movement.

Figure 6 MONISARG tracker deployment locations offshore Manchioneal, Portland, Jamaica

For more information about MONISARG please visit our social media pages!

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