Friday, January 16, 2015

Climate change makes conditions ripe for algal blooms across the globe

Blue-green bloom, Mohegan Lake
Photo © Michael R Martin

Although western Lake Erie has become an international poster child for noxious algae, a new study suggests that many of the world’s much smaller, cleaner, and calmer bodies of water are likewise in trouble if greater efforts are not undertaken to keep farm fertilizers and other nutrients out of them.

The study’s lead author, Dartmouth College biology professor Kathryn Cottingham, said that’s more evidence of how climate change, population growth, and poor land-use practices are putting the Earth’s dwindling freshwater resources at risk.

. . . 

The authors concluded that once cyanobacteria — the fancy word for harmful blue-green algae — creeps into those still bodies of water, it is harder to get it out than previously thought.

Nitrogen and phosphorus in the algae itself gets recycled and combines with fresh runoff to form more algae, resulting in a near-perpetual cycle of goopy green stuff that is difficult to break in certain bodies of water.
“In relatively clear-water systems, some of the nutrients are recycled,” Ms. Cottingham said. “It starts a runaway train. These are warnings that things are going south and we need to be more definitive about land-use management.”

Read the entire article at The Blade

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