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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Apr 16;110(16):6448-52. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1216006110. Epub 2013 Apr 1.

Record-setting algal bloom in Lake Erie caused by agricultural and meteorological trends consistent with expected future conditions.

Author information

1
Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. michalak@stanford.edu

Abstract

In 2011, Lake Erie experienced the largest harmful algal bloom in its recorded history, with a peak intensity over three times greater than any previously observed bloom. Here we show that long-term trends in agricultural practices are consistent with increasing phosphorus loading to the western basin of the lake, and that these trends, coupled with meteorological conditions in spring 2011, produced record-breaking nutrient loads. An extended period of weak lake circulation then led to abnormally long residence times that incubated the bloom, and warm and quiescent conditions after bloom onset allowed algae to remain near the top of the water column and prevented flushing of nutrients from the system. We further find that all of these factors are consistent with expected future conditions. If a scientifically guided management plan to mitigate these impacts is not implemented, we can therefore expect this bloom to be a harbinger of future blooms in Lake Erie.

PMID:
23576718
PMCID:
PMC3631662
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1216006110
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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