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Lake Erie’s environmental problem may be ameliorated by reducing phosphorus levels, but that’s not the solving solution, new study shows. The study also shows that droughts might have been the primal cause of the formation of dead zones in the lake.
Scientists claim Lake Erie has been in a degrading state for at least four years. Different environmental changes that took place transformed what was once a prosperous natural habit into a hazardous one. 2011 brought a heavy increase of algae and in 2012 the largest dead zones the lake has ever had created itself.
A dead zone is basically an area in which fish and other aquatic beings cannot survive. Such a zone is characterized by water very low on oxygen, so low that animals in the region don’t have what to feed off.
The lake’s deterioration continued as in August 2014 an algae so toxic formed in the waters on Toledo, Ohio, that the town was forced to shut down its water supply. Toxic algae usually form in densely humid places, in over-nurtured water.
Although until now no-one linked this series of unfortunate events to a single, much bigger cause, researchers have now concluded that the phenomena was caused by climate change.
Individually, the events of the last four years could not tell the truth, but put together and red as a whole, we can see the bigger picture. The lead author of the study and researcher at the Carnegie Institute for Science, Anna Michalak, explains that dead zones are present in fresh water such as Lake Erie when the levels of phosphorous and nitrogen are alarmingly up. These substances usually end up in the water as dumps of agricultural fertilizer. These two component form the over-nurtured environment that the toxic algae can live off. Also, she explains, this is common to layered masses of water – when cold water is placed beneath the more warm layer of water and the oxygen is trapped atop, unable to reach the water in depth.
Scientists involved with the study – now published in the Environmental Science and Technology journal -, advice the authorities to take into consideration the environmental factors as well as man-influenced changes. They claim that the amount of water that the lake receives from tributary sources, as well as wind speed are also key contributors to the lake’s current condition.
Image Source: SMN Weekly