Extent of the Lake Erie algal bloom in 2013 and 2014. (Credit: NOAA)
Lake Erie’s second major algal bloom is likely to occur this summer, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists predict in a recent press release. The last major algal bloom in the lake rendered its water undrinkable and caused significant clean water shortages.
The worst Lake Erie algal bloom recorded in the past century occurred in 2011, with 2013 being the second worst. Using ensemble modeling, a coalition of scientists predict that 2015’s bloom will surpass 2013’s in severity. Computer models in the study used nutrient load data to predict the severity of the upcoming algal blooms.
Scientists say that heavy June rains in 2015 have caused larger than usual nutrient runoff. This large amount of runoff contributes to harmful algal blooms, a relationship reflected in the models scientists developed.
For future Lake Erie algal bloom forecasts, researchers hope to put a system in place that can predict HABs even more quickly and efficiently. NOAA, NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Geological Survey have assembled a satellite program to gather color images of Lake Erie and other freshwater bodies. The images should help provide early warnings of HABs and provide greater understanding of the environmental reasons behind major blooms.
Top image: Extent of the Lake Erie algal bloom in 2013 and 2014. (Credit: NOAA)