Researchers study shorter winter, toxic algae

Published 7:25 am Monday, March 12, 2018

MOUND — University of Minnesota-Duluth researchers are studying how shorter winters may increase the presence of harmful algae blooms and impact fishing.

The researchers worked with the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Maryland to gather data from six lakes across Minnesota, Minnesota Public Radio reported .

“With climate change, our winters are getting shorter and shorter and we’re losing winter and we really don’t know what the impact of that is,” said Andy Bramburger, a research associate from the Duluth campus. “We don’t know how important that might be.”

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Researchers found that shorter, warmer winters mean more sunlight reaches the water, which jumpstarts algae production. That could mean more nutrients in the food chain but could also mean more toxic blue-green algae.

The harmful blooms can make humans sick and kill animals that drink the contaminated water.

“If you have a cottage and you like to swim or waterski, or further north where people actually take a lot of drinking water for their cottages right out of the lakes, having toxic algae blooms is potentially a big concern,” Bramburger said.