Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Climate Change Brings Mostly Bad News for Ohio

23.05.2014

Early forecasts suggest big algae bloom in Lake Erie, a very dry 2015

Scientists delivered a mostly negative forecast for how climate change will affect Ohioans during the next year or so, and well beyond.


Lake Erie on January 9, 2014

Source: Wikipedia

Researchers report that the projected increase in precipitation and the associated runoff will likely lead to a larger-than-average bloom of harmful blue-green algae in Lake Erie this summer. In addition, the development of an El Niño over the Pacific later this year may result in a very dry 2015 in Ohio. But Ohio may fare better than its neighbors in one respect: While drought and high temperatures are expected to shrink crop yields in 2015, Ohio farmers will likely suffer less than those in the rest of the Corn Belt.

These were some of the findings delivered by scientists speaking at a conference at The Ohio State University on Thursday. On the heels of the recently released 3rd U.S. National Climate Assessment, nearly 200 researchers, educators, and policy makers gathered with the public to discuss how climate change is projected to affect Ohio.

The meeting was hosted by the university’s Byrd Polar Research Center and the Office of Energy and the Environment.

Among the gloomy outlooks for Lake Erie and the farm industry, researchers and other experts offered more encouraging news about the recovery of Ohio forests and improved energy efficiency in electricity distribution and the operation of hospital systems statewide.

The meeting was emblematic of a transformation in the way states are approaching climate change, said Ellen Mosley-Thompson, director of the BPRC and Distinguished University Professor of geography at Ohio State.

The conversation at the forefront of critical American infrastructure—including agriculture, energy, and public health—has shifted from whether climate change exists to how best to manage it and mitigate the likely impacts, Mosley-Thompson said.

“The climate is changing. The debate on that part is over,” she said. “The impacts of climate change are already evident, and will become more widespread and pervasive over the next half-century. The public and our policy makers need the best scientific information available to help them make important decisions, but communication is often challenging.”

Attendees got a preliminary look at the Lake Erie 2014 Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) forecast, which will be officially released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at Stone Laboratory on July 10. Jeffrey Reutter, director of Ohio Sea Grant, revealed that he expects a larger-than-average bloom of harmful blue-green algae this year. Longer storm seasons and more severe storms are contributing to an excessive amount of phosphorus in the lake—mostly from domestic and agricultural runoff—that feeds the HABs.

It is too soon to tell if the 2014 algae bloom could approach the size of the one in 2011—the largest in Erie’s history. As these blooms move into the Central Basin east of Sandusky, they tend to die and sink to the bottom where their decomposition sucks the oxygen out of the bottom portion of the lake and creates a dead zone covering thousands of square miles.

The dead zone will likely reappear this year, Reutter said.

“Eliminating the blue-green algae that cause the HABs would require a 40 percent reduction in phosphorus and other nutrients draining into the lake. Even with a 75 percent reduction, we could still experience a dead zone,” he added.

Lake Erie often produces more fish for human consumption than all the other Great Lakes combined, he explained. An algae bloom not only hinders swimming and boating—it also affects the fishery. So tourism and fisheries are both likely to be impacted. But the consequences will be strongest for Toledo and Maumee Bay, where the bloom is likely to be most severe.

Some other discouraging news came from Lonnie Thompson, Distinguished University Professor in the School of Earth Sciences and Senior Research Scientist at BPRC: there is a 60-70 percent chance that an El Niño will occur over the Pacific Ocean later in 2014. This climate phenomenon generates warm winds that drive weather in North and South America as well as Australia.

“If an El Niño develops, Ohio will likely be very dry and warm next winter,” he said.

From piecing together thousands of years of climate data preserved in ice cores around the world, Thompson has learned that periods of extended drought correspond with major world crises—famine, disease and war. Throughout history, such events have spread across travel and trade routes to affect entire countries and continents.

“It’s a bigger issue today than ever before, because now we are so connected,” he said. “A disruption in food supply in one place could affect people on the other side of the world.”

But some relatively good news for Ohio did emerge at the meeting.

While drought and high temperatures are expected to shrink crop yields in 2015, Ohio farmers will likely suffer less than those in the rest of the Corn Belt. Similarly, Ohio’s forests—which are now recovering from heavy timber exploitation in the early 20th Century—are expected to fare better than those in the arid west or along the coasts.

That news came from Peter Curtis, a professor of evolution, ecology, and organismal biology who specializes in forest ecology; and Richard Moore, professor of environment and natural resources, who studies agricultural trends in the state.

Bruce Braine, Vice President for Strategic Policy Analysis at American Electric Power, said that Ohio utilities are preparing for more frequent severe storms, which were forecast by the recently released climate assessment.

“We’re in a world where over the last 30 years we’ve become much more efficient in our use of electricity than ever before, but we’ve developed more uses for electricity than ever before,” he said.

The company is using new technologies such as infrared detectors to monitor power lines for preventative maintenance. A pilot project to install “smart” power meters in homes has cut the average length of power outages by 30 percent, and reduced power consumption as much as 3 percent. Those strategies, coupled with increased tree trimming to reduce the chance of fallen lines, has led to some success: service disruptions in the company’s territory have fallen from around 4,000 in 2009 to only 1,000 in 2013.

Meanwhile, the Ohio Hospital Association (OHA) is leading an initiative that is unique in the nation: to reduce power consumption in healthcare through energy audits.

“I wanted to save hospitals money, and I saw an opportunity,” said Rick Sites, Regulatory Counsel for OHA. “Six of the 10 largest employers in Ohio are hospitals. There’s a chance to make a big impact.”

By enabling Ohio hospitals to obtain Energy Star ratings, OHA encourages hospitals boost efficiency and resilience in the face of power outages. So far, the association’s energy audits have earned participating hospitals more than $6 million in government energy rebates and saved more than $7 million annually in energy use.

The result is not only money saved, but less pollution from fossil fuels, which aids public health—“a natural goal for hospitals to have,” Sites said.

Ironically, two of the event’s scheduled speakers—an officer from the Navy’s Task Force on Climate Change, and Franklin County Commissioner Paula Brooks—were unable to attend because severe spring storms had grounded their flights into Ohio.

Brooks was to talk about climate preparedness, especially regarding businesses and new buildings in Franklin County. The Naval officer was to discuss how climate change impacts national security. Both speakers may return; a similar event is in the planning stages at BPRC for the summer or fall.

Pamela Gorder | newswise
Further information:
http://www.osu.edu

Further reports about: BPRC Change Climate Lake crop ecology electricity phosphorus reduction storms

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Water cooling for the Earth's crust
22.11.2017 | Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR)

nachricht Retreating permafrost coasts threaten the fragile Arctic environment
22.11.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam - Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Corporate coworking as a driver of innovation

22.11.2017 | Business and Finance

PPPL scientists deliver new high-resolution diagnostic to national laser facility

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Quantum optics allows us to abandon expensive lasers in spectroscopy

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>