Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ontario’s "cottage country" lakes see increase in taste and odour-causing algae

09.03.2004


Ninety per cent of the lakes surveyed in a new study of Ontario’s “cottage country” north of Toronto have seen a significant rise in taste and odour-causing algae – most dramatically in the past 20 years, the researchers report.


Photo credit: Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE).



One of the most frequent complaints voiced by cottagers to local officials is that water in their lakes periodically tastes or smells bad.

A common cause of such problems is blooms of small algae (microscopic plants) that thrive in some of these lakes. Although the frequency of taste and odour complaints seems to be growing steadily, it is unclear whether the problems themselves are increasing or if local users are more sensitized to these issues.


A study published in the current edition of the scientific journal Freshwater Biology examines sediment from 50 lake bottoms in the Muskoka-Haliburton region of Ontario. The results show taste and odour-causing algae have increased in 90 per cent of these lakes since the early 1800s, with a marked rise over the past two decades.

This phenomenon can’t be blamed solely on “local human impact,” says team member John Smol, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change and co-head of Queen’s University’s Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Laboratory (PEARL). “It’s a complex of patterns, which we think involves some combination of acidic deposition and climate change,” explains Dr. Smol.

“The timing indicates that these patterns are the result of one or more human-caused stresses operating at a broad, regional scale,” says lead investigator Andrew Paterson, a former doctoral student at Queen’s. “We present new evidence suggesting that disturbances such as acid rain and climatic warming may produce significant, unprecedented changes to the algae of inland lakes, with important implications for water quality.”

Lake water that smells and tastes foul can be traced to a variety of sources, including chemical pollution and dead fish, but the most common cause is a group of algae called chrysophytes. These microscopic organisms produce scales and spines made of glass that are well preserved in lake sediment.

Through an analysis of sediment cores, the researchers were able to reconstruct the history of these lakes, and compare the distribution of chrysophyte algae over different time periods. Their study shows that substantial increase began in the 1930s-1950s, with the sharpest rise over the past two decades.

“This is a classic example where environmental issues have been debated, and decisions made, based on very short-term data sets – typically two to three years,” says Dr. Smol. “Yet most of the answers lie much further back in time. These sediment records are extremely valuable, because no one was measuring algae 80 or 100 years ago.”

Also on the research team are biologists Brian Cumming from Queen’s and Roland Hall from the University of Waterloo. Funding for the study was provided by an Ontario Graduate Scholarship program, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).

Nancy Dorrance | Queen´s University
Further information:
http://qnc.queensu.ca/story_loader.php?id=404cb24866958

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
23.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Understanding animal social networks can aid wildlife conservation
23.06.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

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: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>