Tag: Great Lakes

Invasive species shift Great Lakes ecosystems

A new study documents ecological changes in Lake Michigan. Photo via @NASA_EO

How will fisheries managers respond?

Staff Report

The Great Lakes have seen successive invasions by non-native species that alter the ecosystem, including quagga mussels that filter the water and remove nutrients. At least partly as a result of the invasive mussels, Lake Michigan is becoming less hospitable to Chinook salmon, according to a new study led by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey and Michigan State University.

The scientists concluded that stocking could help sustain a population of Chinook salmon, but that the lake’s ecosystem is now more conducive to stocking lake trout and steelhead salmon. These two species can switch from eating alewife, which are in decline, to bottom-dwelling round goby, another newly established invasive prey fish that feeds on quagga mussels. Continue reading “Invasive species shift Great Lakes ecosystems”

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USGS study tracks Great Lakes microplastic pollution

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A new USGS study has documented widespread plastic pollution in many of the Great Lakes tributary rivers.

New website highlights the widespread problem of plastic debris

Staff Report

Microplastic pollution is widespread in many rivers flowing into the Great Lakes, according to U.S. Geological Survey scientists who recently took water samples from 29 Great Lakes tributaries in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and New York. The researchers found microplastics in all those streams, which together make up about 22 percent of the water flowing into the Great Lakes.

Earlier studies have found microplastics in the Great Lakes at similar concentrations as in some of the most polluted parts of the world’s oceans, as well as in the St. Lawrence River. And several other studies have found that microplastic pollution is pretty much everywhere.

Microplastics are created when plastic bottles and bags degrade, and are used in some cleansing products like toothpaste and lotions. The pollution is ubiquitous in nearly all the world’s waters. The results of the in the journal Environmental Science & Technology and are also posted on a new USGS microplastics website. Continue reading “USGS study tracks Great Lakes microplastic pollution”

Microplastic pollution a growing Great Lakes concern

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Are the Great Lakes a hotspot for microplastic pollution?

Human garbage is choking ecosystems

Staff Report

FRISCO — Microplastic pollution is showing up in alarming quantities in the Great Lakes, with concentrations in Lake Erie as high as in some of the well-documents ocean garbage patches, according to scientists, who say more research is needed to help craft rules that could address the problem.

Based on a new report from Canadian researchers, a member of Canada’s parliament is calling on the government to list microbeads as a potential toxic substance. The tiny plastic flakes are used in cosmetics, but act like sponges for certain pollutants and are easily ingested by aquatic organisms, including fish and shellfish. Continue reading “Microplastic pollution a growing Great Lakes concern”

Midwest to feel the heat of global warming

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Global warming is likely to have significant effect on the Great Lakes. Photo courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

Climate change stresses likely to cut agricultural output from the nation’s breadbasket

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Midwest could be among the regions hit hardest by climate change, according to a trio of University of Michigan researchers who authored sections of the recent national climate assessment.

The region is likely to face frequent and more intense heat waves, water quality degradation and public health threats, with increasing risks to Great Lakes ecosystems.

“Climate change impacts in the Midwest are expected to be as diverse as the landscape itself. Impacts are already being felt in the forests, in agriculture, in the Great Lakes and in our urban centers,” said University of Michigan aquatic ecologist Donald Scavia, director of the Graham Sustainability Institute and special counsel to the U-M president on sustainability issues.

In the Midwest, extreme rainfall events and floods have become more common over the last century, and those trends are expected to continue, causing erosion, declining water quality and negative impacts on transportation, agriculture, human health and infrastructure, according to the report, which is open for public comment. Continue reading “Midwest to feel the heat of global warming”

Global warming to increase human health risks

NOAA teams up with university researchers to show how warmer temperatures will increase toxic algae blooms and exposure to other waterborne pathogens

Dust blowing off the Sahara into the Atlantic is clearly visible in the NASA satellite image. Research suggests rising concentrations of iron from the dust will increase blooms of toxic algae.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — At the same time that ecologists and forest health researchers discussed some of their latest global warming research at a symposium in Aspen, Colorado, scientists at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science unveiled studies showing how rising temperatures could result in new human health risks within the next 30 years.

“With 2010 the wettest year on record and third warmest for sea surface temperatures, NOAA and our partners are working to uncover how a changing climate can affect our health and our prosperity,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “These studies and others like it will better equip officials with the necessary information and tools they need to prepare for and prevent risks associated with changing oceans and coasts.”

In several studies funded by NOAA’s Oceans and Human Health Initiative, findings shed light on how complex interactions and climate change alterations in sea, land and sky make ocean and freshwater environments more susceptible to toxic algal blooms and proliferation of harmful microbes and bacteria. Continue reading “Global warming to increase human health risks”

New coastal research station established in Wisconsin

NOAA designates a new estuarine research station on the shore of Lake Superior in Wisconsin.

Studies to focus on global warming impacts to rivers and coastal ecosystems

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Designation of 17,000 acres of freshwater marshes, uplands and river on the shores of Lake Superior in Wisconsin as a National Estuarine Research Reserve will give scientists a chance to study how climate change will affect freshwater estuaries, and how they are affected by pollution.

The reserve is the newest in a system of 28 similar areas designated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The research reserves are managed by state agencies or universities in partnership with NOAA, which provides funding and national program guidance and support. Continue reading “New coastal research station established in Wisconsin”