What is the impact of La Soufrière volcanic eruptions and consequent ash clouds on sargassum prevalence in Barbados?

This question has been asked by the newly funded ‘MONISARG’ project. MONISARG is a UK NERC funded collaboration between Professor Robert Marsh and Professor Jadu Dash at the University of Southampton, Professor Hazel Oxenford at CERMES in UWI Cave Hill, and Dr Ava Maxam at MGI, UWI Mona (NERC grant ref: NE/W004798/1 https://gtr.ukri.org/projects?ref=NE%2FW004798%2F1).

The SARTRAC project is supporting MONISARG fieldwork to assess sargassum stranding volumes on the east coast of Barbados in the wake of the Soufriere ash cloud (FIF3). Weekly beach surveys are underway with field teams of 6 persons at the main monitoring beach on the NE coast of Barbados (see Image 1).

Beach surveys on NE coast of Barbados to assess sargassum volumes following Soufriere volcanic eruption.
Photo credits: sargassum on beach by Amina Desai: data collector image by Dale Benskin

Nine weeks of beach data have now been collected. Several methods have been employed to estimate area and volume of beached sargassum including drone flights, full clearance transects, mean depth measurements. The first of five GPS trackers has been deployed into a sargassum mat near Barbados, which is currently drifting westward, towards the Caribbean. We are looking forward to results being available by April 2022.

For more information about the MONISARG project, please contact project lead Prof Bob Marsh R.Marsh@soton.ac.uk

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