Geographic Research on Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs): An Overview

Authors: Patrick Lawrence*, University of Toledo
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, Coastal and Marine, Environment
Keywords: water quality, HABs, geographic research
Session Type: Lightning Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 4:30 PM / 6:10 PM
Room: Congressional B, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The occurrence of Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs)-including Cyanobacteria and Red Tides-are becoming an increasing concern worldwide with notable serious outbreaks in recent years in China, South America, and within the United States in the Great Lakes (most notably Lake Erie, Lake Michigan), Chesapeake Bay, Texas, Florida and other regions. HABs consist of organisms that can severely impact oxygen levels in waters bodies, led to marine life declines, and present environmental and human health concerns with release of toxins released from the algae. On occasion HABs can blooms can last from a few days to many months resulting in extended long-term impacts to communities and aquatic ecosystems. Decay of the organic matter use up even more of the oxygen, creating unhealthy systems for fish and other species-via formation of “dead zones” in water bodies. HABs are driven by an increase of nutrients into water by both natural and human sources, with the two most common nutrients are: phosphorous and nitrates. The sources of these can come from agricultural runoff, industrial discharges excessive lawn fertilizer applications in urban areas, and direct release of municipal sewage. Research has indicted that higher water temperature and low circulation are contributing factors in many water bodies. Geographers worldwide and in the United States are making important research contributions to understanding the complex natural and human factors that are resulting in HAB outbreaks and considering the wide range of physical and cultural issues, plus potential solutions, to address their occurrences and impacts.

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