Algae Blooms: There's More Where That Came From

Some are calling it the summer of Algae—from Utah to Florida to Australia, the world is encountering massive amounts of the stinky, dangerous sludge.
July 25, 2016, 11am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Richard Whitcombe

"Nearly 240 square miles of Lake Okeechobee, the largest freshwater lake in Florida, are covered in a scum of blue-green algae that has also traveled down nearby waterways and out to the coastline," according to an article by Andrea Thompson.

The algae results from a combination of factors, and represents a significant threat to local ecosystems and the tourism industry. The blooms could also become much more common "as Earth’s rising temperature heats up lakes and oceans, providing a more favorable home for algae and other potentially toxic microorganisms in the water," writes Thompson.

The article includes a lot of detail about the environmental conditions that contribute to the proliferation of algae blooms. One such condition, the warming temperature of lakes and other bodies of freshwater, was documented in alarming detail by a NASA study from December 2015.

Ben Guarino provides additional coverage of the algae bloom problem, finding locations outside of Florida struggling to deal with similar blooms. Darren Baldwin, an environmental scientist for Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, is quoted in that article explaining that the Murray-Darling Basin has experienced five algae blooms in the last 13 years. It had been 40 years between algae blooms before this latest streak.

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Published on Monday, July 18, 2016 in Grist
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