In Michigan’s Great Lakes and especially Lake Erie the prevalence of algal blooms are becoming a hazard. Algal blooms occur when there is a rapid increase in concentration of algae in an aquatic environment. Due to the mild winters Michigan has recently experienced, algal blooms have become a problem. The lack of snow and mild winter has given away to more rain and warmer temperatures, which have resulted in more runoff into the Great Lakes and a spurred growth of algae. The concentrations of algal blooms have become issue specifically in Lake Erie due to its shallow depths.
The potential impacts of algal blooms in Lake Erie are harmful effects on water quality, aquatic ecosystem, public health, and public economies. High concentration of algal blooms will cause water quality to be poor because organic material will raise toxins within the water and create a lack of oxygen. In turn the aquatic ecosystem will suffer due to the toxins and lack of oxygen that the algae has created in the water quality, the toxins will kill off life and lack of oxygen will also smother species. The accumulation of toxins within some species of aquatic life can become a public health concern when people consider consuming contaminated shellfish. Algal blooms can also hinder local economies that survive on tourism of the lakes, because algal blooms create an unsightly effect on the beaches and waters of the lakes.
The recommended mitigation of harmful algal blooms is a chemical treatment on algae with liquid hydrogen peroxide and identifying and monitoring algal blooms with satellites and sampling to forecast effects. Using satellites as a mitigating factor for algal blooms is important. In order to treat and locate harmful algal blooms it is helpful to see discolored ‘hotspots’ of algae from a bird’s eye view. As seen with the satellite picture below of Lake Erie, provided by Great Lakes Echo website, it is easy to detect areas with a high concentration of algae.