The following was reported by the National Science Foundation:
A 2011 record-breaking algae bloom in Lake Erie was triggered by long-term agricultural practices coupled with extreme precipitation, followed by weak lake circulation and warm temperatures, scientists have discovered.
The researchers also predict that, unless agricultural policies change, the lake will continue to experience extreme blooms.
"The factors that led to this explosion of algal blooms are all related to humans and our interaction with the environment," says Bruce Hamilton, program director at the National Science Foundation (NSF), which funded the research through its Water, Sustainability and Climate (WSC) Program.
WSC is part of NSF's Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability (SEES) initiative.
"Population growth, changes in agricultural practices and climate change are all part of the equation," says Hamilton. "These findings show us where we need to focus our attention in the future."
Results of the research are published in this week's online early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
"The 'perfect storm' of weather events and agricultural practices that occurred in 2011 is unfortunately consistent with ongoing trends," says Anna Michalak, the paper's lead author and a scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science's Department of Global Ecology, located at Stanford University.
"That means that more huge algal blooms can be expected in the future, unless a scientifically-guided management plan is implemented for the region."