Earth Science News  





. Harmful Algae Taking Advantage Of Global Warming

St. Johns River, Florida. Courtesy of J. Burns.
by Staff Writers
Chapel Hill NC (SPX) Apr 09, 2008
You know that green scum creeping across the surface of your local public water reservoir? Or maybe it's choking out a favorite fishing spot or livestock watering hole. It's probably cyanobacteria - blue-green algae - and, according to a paper in the journal Science, it relishes the weather extremes that accompany global warming.

Hans Paerl, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Sciences Professor and co-author of the Science paper, calls the algae the "cockroach of lakes." It's everywhere and it's hard to exterminate - but when the sun comes up it doesn't scurry to a corner, it's still there, and it's growing, as thick as 3 feet in some areas.

The algae has been linked to digestive, neurological and skin diseases and fatal liver disease in humans. It costs municipal water systems many millions of dollars to treat in the United States alone. And though it's more prevalent in developing countries, it grows on key bodies of water across the world, including Lake Victoria in Africa, the Baltic Sea, Lake Erie and bays of the Great Lakes, Florida's Lake Okeechobee and in the main reservoir for Raleigh, N.C.

"This is a worldwide problem," said Paerl, Kenan Professor of marine and environmental sciences in UNC's College of Arts and Sciences.

"It's long been known that nutrient runoff contributes to cyanobacterial growth. Now scientists can factor in temperature and global warming," said Paerl, who, with professor Jef Huisman from the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, explains the new realization in Science paper.

"As temperatures rise waters are more amenable to blooms," Paerl said.

The algae also thrive in wet, soggy ground in areas experiencing periodic floods, like the U.S. Midwest. And in a drought, like the Southeastern United States is experiencing now, other algae and aquatic organisms die off, cyanobacteria thrive, waiting to explode

Warmer weather has also created longer growing seasons, and it's enabled cyanobacteria to grow in northern waters previously too cold for their survival. Species first found in southern Europe in the 1930s now form blooms in northern Germany, and a Florida species now grows in the Southeastern U.S. Others have appeared recently places as far north as Montana and throughout Canada.

Fish and other aquatic animals and plants stand little chance against cyanobacteria. The algae crowds the surface water, shading out plants - fish food - below. The fish generally avoid cyanobacteria, so they're left without food. And when the algae die they sink to the bottom where their decomposition can lead to extensive depletion of oxygen.

These cyanobacteria - blue-green algae - were the first plants on earth to produce oxygen.

"It's ironic," Paerl said. "Without cyanobacteria, we wouldn't be here. Animal life needed the oxygen the algae produced." Now, however, it threatens the health and livelihood of people who depend on infested waters for drinking water or income from fishing and recreational use.

These algae that were first on the scene, Paerl predicts, will be the last to go ... right after the cockroaches.

Community
Email This Article
Comment On This Article

Related Links
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Our Polluted World and Cleaning It Up




Tempur-Pedic Mattress Comparison

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News
Czech steel giant promises to improve air quality in polluted city
Prague (AFP) April 8, 2008
The Czech Republic's biggest steelmaker, ArcelorMittal Ostrava, pledged to improve air quality in the city, one of the most polluted in Central Europe, following a protest on Tuesday.

.
Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
  



  • Big Tokyo quake would cause human gridlock: study
  • Disasters In Small Communities: Researchers Discuss How To Help
  • Raytheon Develops Advanced Concrete Breaking Technology For Urban Search And Rescue
  • Floods, cyclones, devastate southern Africa: UN

  • Revolutionary CO2 Maps Zoom In On Greenhouse Gas Sources
  • Earth in crisis, warns NASA's top climate scientist
  • New Formula For Combating The Greenhouse Gas Nitrous Oxide
  • Tough road lies ahead for global climate deal

  • India to launch remote sensing satellite this month
  • Boeing Submits GOES R Proposal To NASA
  • Satellites Can Help Arctic Grazers Survive Killer Winter Storms
  • CrIS Atmospheric Sounder Completes Vibration Testing

  • Siemens To Supply 141 Wind Turbines For Oregon Wind Farm
  • Most Powerful Laser In The World Fires Up
  • China's Avant-Garde Agrarian Policies Provide Fresh Impetus To Its Biofuel Market
  • Cleaning Up The Atmosphere With Cow Manure

  • Human infects human with bird flu in China: study
  • Alligator Blood And Mud Help Fight Superbugs
  • Bird flu breaks out at Tibet poultry farm: China
  • Community-Acquired MRSA Spreads

  • Evolution On The Table Top
  • Meteorites Delivered The Seeds Of Earth's Left-Hand Life
  • Russia considers ban on baby seal hunting: ministry
  • Economic Boom And Olympic Games Pose Threat Of Biological Invasion Of China

  • Harmful Algae Taking Advantage Of Global Warming
  • Chesapeake Bay Ecosystem Health Remains Poor, But Slightly Improved In 2007
  • Russian mayor urges closure of own town: report
  • Czech steel giant promises to improve air quality in polluted city

  • The Voyage To America
  • Dyslexia in Chinese, English speakers is different: study
  • Researchers Find Pre-Clovis Human DNA
  • Scientists Reshape Y Chromosome Haplogroup Tree Gaining New Insights Into Human Ancestry

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2007 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement