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Record algae bloom in Lake Erie linked with global warming

This NASA Landsat-5 image shows the record-breaking algal bloom in Lake Eerie in October of 2011. The green scum is mostly microcystis, a toxin to mammals.

This NASA Landsat-5 image shows the record-breaking algal bloom in Lake Eerie in October of 2011. The green scum is mostly microcystis, a toxin to mammals.

2011 event was three times larger than any previously recorded bloom

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A record-breaking 2011 algae bloom — three time larger than any on record — in Lake Erie is a warning sign, as global warming is expected to generate more intense rainstorms that flush fertilizers from surrounding fields into the water.

The Lake Erie bloom was triggered by long-term agricultural practices coupled with extreme precipitation, followed by weak lake circulation and warm temperatures, the researchers said, concluding that the lake will continue to experience extreme blooms unless agricultural practices change.

While the changing climate is a key factor, some of the impacts could be mitigated with best management practices, a group of researchers concluded in a new study published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Continue reading

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Environment: Excess nutrients speed up ocean acidification

Shellfish are expected to be hit hard by ocean acidification in the coming decades. Bob Berwyn photo.

CO2 from decaying algae blooms adds to ocean woes

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Runoff from agricultural and urban areas is speeding up ocean acidification in some coastal areas, adding to the woes resulting from increased concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

A new study by researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Georgia found that CO2 released from decaying algal blooms intensifies acidification, which is already taking a toll on shellfish populations in some areas.

Ocean acidification occurs when the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or from the breakdown of organic matter, causing a chemical reaction to make it more acidic. Species as diverse as scallops and corals are vulnerable to ocean acidification, which can affect the growth of their shells and skeletons. Continue reading

Global warming: Lake ecosystems feeling the heat

Increasing bacteria growth adds to treatment challenges

Switerland’s Lake Zurich is seeing increased levels of cyanobacteria, in part because of global warming. Photo via Wikipedia and the Creative Commons.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Steadily climbing temperatures pose a significant threat to lake ecosystems, according to researchers with the University of Zurich.

Warming has led to increased stratification and inadequate turnover in Lake Zurich during the winter, causing persistent blooms of harmful cyanobacteria. In the case of Lake Zurich, the changes are threatening to undo recent of lake cleanup efforts, the scientists said.

Like many other large lakes in Europe, Lake Zurich was polluted by sewage during the 20th century. The nitrogen-rich waste resulted in massive algal blooms that started to kill the lake ecosystem by eutrophication. Continue reading

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