SUNY Researchers working to better understand lake algae blooms

[USA] Blue green algae has been an ongoing issue on Lake Champlain for years. Its soupy green consistency not only makes the lake less attractive, but it can cause health issues if it’s accidentally ingested.

“Definitely makes it difficult to see the bottom of the lake and being able to see the fish. It’s really disgusting,” said Matthew Hoover of Plattsburgh.

Researchers say there’s no way to predict how bad the algae will get this summer, but there are a few factors that could contribute to the problem. Blue-green algae is often a result of runoff from fields. With this spring’s steady flow of rain, the lake has the right ingredients for the bacteria to bloom. “Those nutrients are there, and the spring nutrients can come in. It really depends on what happens now after spring, what kind of summer conditions we get. What kind of warming we get in the lake. Do we get a lot of warming in the shallow bays? Is it sunny? Is it calm? Is it windy?” said Tim Mihuc, Director of the Lake Champlain Research Institute at SUNY Plattsburgh.

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The Institute has a data buoy positioned on the lake that can measure many of those factors. The data is posted throughout the day to a website for the public to view. “We’re monitoring the thermal conditions in great detail, and that’s gonna tell us a lot about this ecosystem and the conditions,” Mihuc said.

He says the earliest blue green algae would start to bloom is July. He says sometimes the best way to help researchers track it is for the public to report any sightings. “If they see algal blooms, or what they think is a bloom — which is the green, soup, green mucky water sometimes — you can report it online on a form.”

Mihuc says to especially keep an eye out on known problem areas such as bays, where the the lake is more shallow and warms up more quickly.

Blue-green algae has been an ongoing issue on Lake Champlain for years. Its soupy green consistency not only makes the lake less attractive, but it can cause health issues if it’s accidentally ingested.

“Definitely makes it difficult to see the bottom of the lake and being able to see the fish. It’s really disgusting,” said Matthew Hoover of Plattsburgh.

Researchers say there’s no way to predict how bad the algae will get this summer, but there are a few factors that could contribute to the problem. Blue green algae is often a result of runoff from fields. With this spring’s steady flow of rain, the lake has the right ingredients for the bacteria to bloom. “Those nutrients are there, and the spring nutrients can come in. It really depends on what happens now after spring, what kind of summer conditions we get. What kind of warming we get in the lake. Do we get a lot of warming in the shallow bays? Is it sunny? Is it calm? Is it windy?” said Tim Mihuc, Director of the Lake Champlain Research Institute at SUNY Plattsburgh.

The Institute has a data buoy positioned on the lake that can measure many of those factors. The data is posted throughout the day to a website for the public to view. “We’re monitoring the thermal conditions in great detail, and that’s gonna tell us a lot about this ecosystem and the conditions,” Mihuc said.

He says the earliest blue green algae would start to bloom is July. He says sometimes the best way to help researchers track it is for the public to report any sightings. “If they see algal blooms, or what they think is a bloom — which is the green, soup, green mucky water sometimes — you can report it online on a form.”

Mihuc says to especially keep an eye out on known problem areas such as bays, where the the lake is more shallow and warms up more quickly.

 

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