Tuesday, July 2, 2013

NOAA Annual HAB Outlook For Western Lake Erie

Jul 2: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its research partners predict that the 2013 western Lake Erie harmful algal bloom (HAB) season will have a significant bloom of cyanobacteria, a toxic blue-green algae, this summer. The predicted bloom is expected to be larger than last year, but considerably less than the record-setting 2011 bloom. Bloom impacts will vary across the lake's western basin. This marks the second time NOAA has issued an annual outlook for western Lake Erie. Holly Bamford, Ph.D., NOAA's assistant administrator for the National Ocean Service said, "This annual forecast and NOAA's weekly bulletins provide the most advanced ecological information possible to Great Lakes businesses and resource managers so they can save time and money on the things they do that drive recreational activities and the economy."

Harmful algae blooms were common on western Lake Erie in the 1960s and 1970s. After a lapse of nearly 20 years, they have been steadily increasing over the past decade. As an early warning system, NOAA has issued weekly HABS bulletins for western Lake Erie since 2008 through the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS). The weekly bulletins will continue in 2013. Jeff Reutter, Ph.D., director of Ohio State University's Sea Grant program and Stone Laboratory said, "This information is critical for tourists, coastal businesses, water treatment plant operators, state and regional natural resource managers and scientists throughout Ohio, the region, and the country. In Ohio, as part of our Phosphorus Task Force II, we have used information from the NOAA model to help us target reductions in the amount of phosphorus going into the lake that would eliminate, or greatly reduce, the HABs."

    The 2013 seasonal forecast, made possible using NOAA models developed by NCCOS scientists, uses an 11-year data set of nutrients flowing into Lake Erie, collected by the Heidelberg University's National Center for Water Quality Research, and analysis of satellite data from the European Space Agency's Envisat. In addition to the satellite monitoring of the lake, NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research  Laboratory, Ohio State University's Sea Grant Program and Stone Laboratory, Heidelberg University, the University of Toledo, and Ohio EPA will be collecting key measurements from the lake as the summer progresses. Those results will provide valuable information to regional managers and assist NCCOS scientists in further refining the accuracy of this forecast's models.

    Access a release from NOAA with multiple links to related information (click here). [#GLakes]

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