The coast of the United Arab Emirates hosts some of the largest desalination plants in the world. While the water they release may affect the coastal ecosystem, harmful and non-harmful algae blooms can also greatly affect the desalination plants. In particular, the local phenomenon known as the ‘red tide’ has affected desalination plants over the last four years, causing severe damage and sometimes bringing operations to a halt.
Satellite data can be used to identify and monitor red tide events – such as this one spreading from the Gulf of Oman into the Persian Gulf. This image was acquired by Envisat’s MERIS instrument on 22 November 2008.