By Holli Riebeek
27 September 2013
(NASA) – The waters of Lake Erie seem to glow green in this image taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite on 26 September 2013. The color comes from a toxic algae bloom, which has been growing in the lake since mid July. The algae is microcystis, a form of blue-green algae that produces liver toxins, which cause numbness, nausea, vomiting, and (rarely) liver failure.
Microcystis is a fresh water algae that usually forms when waters are warm. In Lake Erie, runoff from farms and lawns provides extra nutrients that allow the algae to flourish. The current bloom is smaller than the record-setting bloom in 2011, but algae concentrations have been at risky levels at many points through the summer. As of September 26, microcystis concentrations were falling, but water remained too warm for the bloom to decline greatly, according to the NOAA Experimental Lake Erie Harmful Algal Bloom Bulletin. [more]