Comparing algal blooms

With Toledo’s water reaching concerning levels this weekend, we decided to look at high-resolution satellite data to compare our Western Basin algal bloom to what it was just a week ago.  After changing winds and some calmer weather, things seemed to mellow… out on August 10.  You see far less apparent algae near Toledo and “our” part of the lake.  

ALGAE ASIA - Comparing algae bloom 2
Image on 10th August, 2014
Image on 15th August, 2014
Image on 15th August, 2014

Fast forward a few days, though, and it’s a much different story.  Heavy rain doused Ohio and the Detroit area.  That rain was a double-edged sword.  True, it stirred up Lake Erie and pushed some algae offshore, farther from Toledo’s water intake.

Still, after some spots saw flooding rain of more than six inches, the trapped rain water picked up pollutants and carried them downstream into Lake Erie.  After looking at NASA’s (pixelated) bacteria and algae count, it’s easy to see the role river and lake currents play into a harmful algal bloom’s dispersion.  

We also wanted to get a wide view of the Great Lakes, to see if Ontario or Superior are healthy.  Look at the big photo; while there is algae and runoff in much of the chain, western Lake Erie is again the brightest shade of green.  


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