Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Global warming harms lakes

16.07.2012
Global warming also affects lakes. Based on the example of Lake Zurich, researchers from the University of Zurich demonstrate that there is insufficient water turnover in the lake during the winter and harmful Burgundy blood algae are increasingly thriving. The warmer temperatures are thus compromising the successful lake clean-ups of recent decades.
Many large lakes in Central Europe became heavily overfertilized in the twentieth century through sewage. As a result, algal blooms developed and cyanobacteria (photosynthetic bacteria) especially began to appear en masse. Some of these organisms form toxins that can compromise the use of the lake water. Dying algal blooms consume a lot of oxygen, thereby reducing the oxygen content in the lake with negative consequences for the fish stocks.

The problem with overfertilization was not merely the absolute amount of oxygen and phosphorus, the two most important nutrients for algae. Mankind has also changed the ratio between the two nutrients: The phosphorus load in lakes has been reduced vastly in recent decades, yet pollution with nitrogen compounds has not decreased on the same scale. The current ratio between the nutrients can thus trigger a mass appearance of certain cyanobacteria, even in lakes that have been deemed “restored”.

Burgundy blood algae grow more rapidly
"The problem today is that mankind is changing two sensitive lake properties at the same time, namely the nutrient ratios and, with global warming, water temperature,” explains Thomas Posch, a limnologist from the University of Zurich. In collaboration with Zurich Water Supply, he analyzed 40 years’ worth of data in a study that has just been published in Nature Climate Change.

The evaluation of this historical data on Lake Zurich reveals that the cyanobacteria Planktothrix rubescens, more commonly known as Burgundy blood algae, has developed increasingly denser blooms in the last 40 years. Like many other cyanobacteria, Planktothrix contains toxins to protect itself from being eaten by small crabs. Burgundy blood algae were first described in Lake Zurich in 1899 and are a well-known phenomenon for Zurich Water Supply. Consequently, the lake water is painstakingly treated for the drinking-water supply to remove the organism and toxins completely from the raw water.

Warmer lakes have insufficient water turnover
But why does Planktothrix increasingly thrive? The most important natural control of the cyanobacteria blooms occurs in the spring, once the entire lake has cooled down vastly during the winter. Intensive winds trigger the turnover of the surface and deep water. If the turnover is complete, many cyanobacteria die off in the deep waters of Lake Zurich as they cannot withstand the high pressure, which is still 13 bars at depths of 130 meters. Another positive effect of this turnover is the transportation of fresh oxygen to the deep. However, the situation in Lake Zurich has also changed drastically in the last four decades. Global warming causes rising temperatures at the water surface. The current values are between 0.6 and 1.2 degrees Celsius above the 40-year average. The winters were increasingly too warm and the lake water was not able to turn over fully as the temperature difference between the surface and depths posed a physical barrier. The consequences are larger oxygen deficits for a longer period in the lake’s deep water and an insufficient reduction of the Burgundy blood algae blooms.

The cyanobacteria Planktothrix rubescens (Burgundy blood algae) in Lake Zurich. The threads are only 0.005 by two millimeters in size, but primarily form a mass presence at a water depth of 12 to 15 meters. (picture: Limnologische Station, UZH)


In the fall, the body of water already turns over at a depth of between zero and 20 meters and the Planktothrix comes to the surface from depths of 15 meters. It can form visible masses (blooms) at the surface. (picture: Limnologische Station, UZH)

Hope for cold, windy winters

“Unfortunately, we are currently experiencing a paradox. Even though we thought we had partly solved the nutrient problem, in some lakes global warming works against the clean-up measures. Therefore, we primarily need cold winters with strong winds again,” says Posch. As far as the researchers are concerned, the winter of 2011/12 was just what the doctor ordered: The low temperatures and heavy storms allowed the lake to turn over completely and ultimately resulted in a reduction in Planktothrix.

Publikation:
Thomas Posch, Oliver Köster, Michaela M. Salcher und Jakob Pernthaler. Harmful filamentous cyanobacteria favoured by reduced water turnover with lake warming. Nature Climate Change. 8. Juli 2012.Doi: 10.103

Thomas Posch | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uzh.ch
http://www.mediadesk.uzh.ch/articles/2012/klimaerwaermung-schadet-den-seen_en.html

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

nachricht A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

Im Focus: Silencing bacteria

HZI researchers pave the way for new agents that render hospital pathogens mute

Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...

Im Focus: Artificial Enzymes for Hydrogen Conversion

Scientists from the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion report in the first issue of the new journal JOULE.

Cell Press has just released the first issue of Joule, a new journal dedicated to sustainable energy research. In this issue James Birrell, Olaf Rüdiger,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

IVAM’s LaserForum visits the Swiss canton of St. Gallen with the topic ultrashort pulse lasers

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

The Wadden Sea and the Elbe Studied with Zeppelin, Drones and Research Ships

19.09.2017 | Earth Sciences

Digging sensors out of an efficiency hole

19.09.2017 | Materials Sciences

Solar wind impacts on giant 'space hurricanes' may affect satellite safety

19.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>