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 Researchers find higher than expected carbon emissions from inland waterways
25.05.2016 | Washington State University

nachricht Rutgers scientists help create world's largest coral gene database
24.05.2016 | Rutgers University

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Computational high-throughput screening finds hard magnets containing less rare earth elements

Permanent magnets are very important for technologies of the future like electromobility and renewable energy, and rare earth elements (REE) are necessary for their manufacture. The Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM in Freiburg, Germany, has now succeeded in identifying promising approaches and materials for new permanent magnets through use of an in-house simulation process based on high-throughput screening (HTS). The team was able to improve magnetic properties this way and at the same time replaced REE with elements that are less expensive and readily available. The results were published in the online technical journal “Scientific Reports”.

The starting point for IWM researchers Wolfgang Körner, Georg Krugel, and Christian Elsässer was a neodymium-iron-nitrogen compound based on a type of...

Im Focus: Atomic precision: technologies for the next-but-one generation of microchips

In the Beyond EUV project, the Fraunhofer Institutes for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen and for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena are developing key technologies for the manufacture of a new generation of microchips using EUV radiation at a wavelength of 6.7 nm. The resulting structures are barely thicker than single atoms, and they make it possible to produce extremely integrated circuits for such items as wearables or mind-controlled prosthetic limbs.

In 1965 Gordon Moore formulated the law that came to be named after him, which states that the complexity of integrated circuits doubles every one to two...

Im Focus: Researchers demonstrate size quantization of Dirac fermions in graphene

Characterization of high-quality material reveals important details relevant to next generation nanoelectronic devices

Quantum mechanics is the field of physics governing the behavior of things on atomic scales, where things work very differently from our everyday world.

Im Focus: Graphene: A quantum of current

When current comes in discrete packages: Viennese scientists unravel the quantum properties of the carbon material graphene

In 2010 the Nobel Prize in physics was awarded for the discovery of the exceptional material graphene, which consists of a single layer of carbon atoms...

Im Focus: Transparent - Flexible - Printable: Key technologies for tomorrow’s displays

The trend-forward world of display technology relies on innovative materials and novel approaches to steadily advance the visual experience, for example through higher pixel densities, better contrast, larger formats or user-friendler design. Fraunhofer ISC’s newly developed materials for optics and electronics now broaden the application potential of next generation displays. Learn about lower cost-effective wet-chemical printing procedures and the new materials at the Fraunhofer ISC booth # 1021 in North Hall D during the SID International Symposium on Information Display held from 22 to 27 May 2016 at San Francisco’s Moscone Center.

Economical processing

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Networking 4.0: International Laser Technology Congress AKL’16 Shows New Ways of Cooperations

24.05.2016 | Event News

Challenges of rural labor markets

20.05.2016 | Event News

International expert meeting “Health Business Connect” in France

19.05.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

LZH shows the potential of the laser for industrial manufacturing at the LASYS 2016

25.05.2016 | Trade Fair News

Great apes communicate cooperatively

25.05.2016 | Life Sciences

Thermo-Optical Measuring method (TOM) could save several million tons of CO2 in coal-fired plants

25.05.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>