Acoustic scattering by gas-bearing cyanobacterium Microcystis: Modeling and in situ biomass assessment

Dezhang Chu, Ilia Ostrovsky, Hikaru Homma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (HABs) are increasing in a growing number of aquatic ecosystems around the world due to eutrophication and climatic change over the past few decades. Quantitative monitoring of HABs remains a challenge because their distributions are spatially heterogeneous and temporally variable. Most of the standard biological sampling methods are labor intensive and time consuming. In this paper, we present an efficient acoustic method to assess the biomass (biovolume) concentration of the cyanobacterium Microcystis in aquatic ecosystems. Acoustic backscattering vertical profiles from a gas-bearing Microcystis population were measured with echosounders at three frequencies (70, 120, and 333 kHz) in Lake Kinneret (case study). Concurrently, the volume concentration of Microcystis colonies and cyanobacteria-related Chlorophyll a were evaluated. We developed a partially coherent acoustic scattering model to quantify the cyanobacterium biomass based on depth-dependent acoustic backscattering signals. We also evaluated empirical regression models to obtain the Microcystis biomass from acoustically measured volume backscattering strength, Sv. It is demonstrated that both methods can convert the Sv to Microcystis biovolume concentrations reasonably well. Pro and cons of these methods are discussed. The results suggest that the presented methods may have a potential to be used for broader applications to monitor and quantify the gas-containing plankton in large aquatic ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number148573
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - 10 Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • Acoustic backscattering
  • Biovolume concentration
  • Cyanobacterium Microcystis
  • Echosounder
  • Partially coherent scattering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry


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