Lake Erie Algal Bloom Projections

A new report from Heidelberg University’s National Center for Water Quality Research paints a bleak picture for this year’s water quality in western Lake Erie as harmful algal bloom severity (HAB) is now projected to approach 2013 levels.

Maumee Total Phosphorous Load

The severity of the HABs is dependent on the cumulative phosphorous inputs from the beginning of March to the end of July. This period is referred to as the loading season. NOAA utilizes data from various institutions, including Stone Laboratory at Ohio State University, the aforementioned Heidelberg center, and NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL).

As shown in Figure 2, recent data shows a marked, rapid increase in phosphorous loading from the Maumee River. This notable increase has led to a significant increase in severity projections for western Lake Erie. The projections are based on input data from Heidelburg and modeling by NOAA’s National Center for Coastal Ocean Science. A significant even like 2011 is not expected at the moment, but now-current projections do suggest a bloom close to what was seen in 2013.

Model by NOAA National Center for Coastal Ocean Science

Researchers at NOAA attribute the increase in TP loading to record-breaking heavy rains across the region. Given the recent weather events post-dating this data, a further increase may be expected. Figure 3, to the left, showcases the severity index model projections.

The solid bars represent the most likely scenarios whereas the lines are indicative of maximum and minimum statistical likelihood. The reason they become smaller as time goes forward is due to the fact that the model becomes increasingly confident and uncertainty decreases as we get closer to the actual prediction.

 

Credits: Figures from National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and the National Center for Water Quality Research, 23 June 2015, Projection 06. Report.

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