A new study led by the University of Michigan says nutrient pollution into Lake Erie needs to be cut nearly in half to reduce the size of the annual Lake Erie “dead zone” to an acceptable level. Complicating matters: climate change is expected to make such reductions more difficult, and the rise of a type of phosphorous that algae really like to eat.
Researchers at Grand Valley State University’s Annis Water Resources Institute are finding that harmful algae blooms in two West Michigan lakes are linked to the water-clarifying action of the invasive species zebra mussels.
The warming climate and modern farming practices are creating ideal conditions for gigantic algae formations on Lake Erie, which could be potentially disastrous to the surrounding area’s multi-billion-dollar tourist economy.
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Climate change is expected to increase the frequency of intense spring rain storms in the Great Lakes region throughout this century and will likely add to the number of harmful algal blooms and “dead zones” in Lake Erie, unless additional conservation actions are taken, according to a University of Michigan aquatic ecologist.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency is funding more than $1 million in research on extreme weather by scientists at Michigan Technological University and Michigan State University.