Tick Tick Bloom: Harmful Algal Bloom Detection Challenge

Harmful algal blooms occur all around the world, and can harm people, their pets, and marine life. Use satellite imagery to detect dangerous concentrations of cyanobacteria, and help protect public health! #climate

$30,000 awarded
feb 2023
1,377 joined

2017 algal bloom in Lake Erie seen as bright green splotches, captured by the NASA/USGS Landsat mission


Inland water bodies provide a variety of critical services for both human and aquatic life, including drinking water, recreational and economic opportunities, and marine habitats. A significant challenge water quality managers face is the formation of harmful algal blooms (HABs). One of the major types of HABs is cyanobacteria. HABs produce toxins that are poisonous to humans and their pets, and threaten marine ecosystems by blocking sunlight and oxygen. Manual water sampling, or “in situ” sampling, is generally used to monitor cyanobacteria in inland water bodies. In situ sampling is accurate, but time intensive and difficult to perform continuously.

Your goal in this challenge is to use satellite imagery to detect and classify the severity of cyanobacteria blooms in small, inland water bodies. The resulting algorithm will help water quality managers better allocate resources for in situ sampling, and make more informed decisions around public health warnings for critical resources like drinking water reservoirs. Ultimately, more accurate and more timely detection of algal blooms helps keep both the human and marine life that rely on these water bodies safe and healthy.

Competition End Date:

Feb. 17, 2023, 11:59 p.m. UTC

Place Prize Amount
1st $12,000
2nd $9,000
3rd $6,000
Bonus prize Prize Amount
1st $2,000
2nd $1,000

Note: in the event of a tie, winners will be decided by inference time (shortest is best).

Bonus prize: Best write-ups of methods

The 5 top-scoring performers in this competition will be invited to submit a brief write-up of their modeling methodology. If a finalist declines the invitation to submit a write-up, the next finalist on the leaderboard may be invited. A bonus prize will be awarded to the two best write-ups as selected by a judging panel based on factors including model interpretability and robustness.

How to compete

  1. Click the "Join the competition" button in the sidebar to enroll in the competition.
  2. Get familiar with the problem through the about page and problem description. You might also want to reference some of the additional resources from the about page.
  3. Download the data from the data tab.
  4. Create and train your own model. The benchmark blog post is a good place to start.
  5. Use your model to generate predictions that match the submission format.
  6. Click “Submit” in the sidebar, and then “Make new submission”. You’re in!

This challenge was created on behalf of NASA

NASA logo

With collaboration from NOAA, EPA, USGS, DOD's Defense Innovation Unit, Berkley AI Research, and Microsoft AI for Earth

NOAA logo     EPA logo    

USGS logo     Defense Innovation Unit logo    

Berkeley AI Research logo     Microsoft AI for Earth logo

Image courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory, Joshua Stevens, using Landsat imagery from NASA/USGS. Depicts a 2017 algal bloom in Lake Erie.