Weather Tied to Lake Erie "Dead Zones"

January 8, 2015

By J. Carlisle Larsen

Photo Courtesy of NASA/NOAA

“In 2012, we had this very widespread U.S. drought with most rivers in the Great Lakes region running below their tenth percentile—so in other words—the amount of river flow was lower than nine years out of ten during typical periods. And this really appears to explain why this hypoxic zone was as large as it was.”

--Anna Michalak, Carnegie Institution for Science

Lake Erie is the smallest of the Great Lakes, but has the biggest share of bad press. That’s due to massive algae blooms which plague the waters and recently led to the shutting down of Toledo’s water system in August. But Lake Erie also has a “dead zone”—an area of low oxygen—which can lead to the deaths of fish. Scientists studying the lake have discovered a close link between weather and the severity of the “dead zone”. Anna Michalak is a researcher for the Carnegie Institution for Science. She spoke with WDET’s J. Carlisle Larsen about the research.

Photo Courtesy of NASA/NOAA