Researchers find key to saving the world's lakes

Jul 21, 2008

After completing one of the longest running experiments ever done on a lake, researchers from the University of Alberta, University of Minnesota and the Freshwater Institute, contend that nitrogen control, in which the European Union and many other jurisdictions around the world are investing millions of dollars, is not effective and in fact, may actually increase the problem of cultural eutrophication.

The dramatic rise in cultural eutrophication—the addition of nutrients to a body of water due to human activity that often causes huge algal blooms, fish kills and other problems in lakes throughout the world—has resulted from increased deposits of nutrients to lakes, largely from human sewage and agricultural wastes.

For 37 years researchers looked at Lake 227, a small lake in the Canadian Shield at the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) in Ontario, Canada, and examined the best ways to control the cultural eutrophication process of lakes by varying the levels of phosphorous and nitrogen added to the lake.

"What we found goes against the practices of the European Union and many scientists around the world," said David Schindler, professor of ecology at the University of Alberta and one of the leading water researchers in the world. "Controlling nitrogen does not correct the polluted lakes, and in fact, may actually aggravate the problem and make it worse."

A previous study, entitled, A Survey of the State of the World's Lakes, found that the cultural eutrophication of lakes has had a global effect. The continent percentage of lakes with cultural eutrophication were shown as:

-- Asia: 54 per cent
-- Europe: 53 per cent
-- North America: 48 per cent
-- South America: 41 per cent
-- Africa: 28 per cent

"The damage to these lakes is a major concern for virtually every continent," said Schindler.

The impact on human society is immense he says, as cultural eutrophication severely reduces water quality, which not only kills and contaminates fish, shellfish and other animals, but also can become a health-related problem in humans once it begins to interfere with drinking water treatment.

This study appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: University of Alberta

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User comments : 9

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vlam67
4 / 5 (3) Jul 21, 2008
More often than not, finding the key is easier than access to the lock.
jeffsaunders
4.5 / 5 (4) Jul 21, 2008
Just a touch more information in this article would be helpful.

I know these little articles are like the equivalent of a sound bite but I would like a little more substance to suck on to at least have an idea as to what they found out.
Soylent
3.8 / 5 (4) Jul 21, 2008
More often than not, finding the key is easier than access to the lock.


More often than not, someone thinks they've found the key and in their excitement they end up breaking it off in the lock when they are to thick-headed to realise that it's the wrong key.

See for instance the utter catastrophy that is yellowstone natural park. They assumed the indians were noble savages living peacefully with the forest and ended up overpopulating the place with elk, killing off the aspen, driving out the beavers, killing off the predators and protecting old growth forest for so long that once it caught fire it burned so hot nothing survived, not even seeds in the soil. If they'd just asked the indians they'd have a clear and unambiguous answer on how to preserve it; start frequent forest fires to clear away old growth forest and hunt the game to the edge of extinction.
MiddleBassIsland
3.5 / 5 (6) Jul 21, 2008
The title doesn't match the content and is simply an attempt at sensationalism, which is unwarranted in a scientific article. According to the article, no new key has been found. They just found out that the old key doesn't work.
k_m
1.6 / 5 (5) Jul 21, 2008
so the article is basically saying the key to saving lakes is do nothing. 'cause if you cut the nitrogen levels, it can make the problem worse.
digitalinfos113
3 / 5 (5) Jul 22, 2008
Saving the world's lakes is a attempt that should appreciated by all hands.
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Petric Rodger
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Soylent
5 / 5 (5) Jul 22, 2008
so the article is basically saying the key to saving lakes is do nothing. 'cause if you cut the nitrogen levels, it can make the problem worse.


No, the article says that reducing nitrogen levels does not appear to help and could even make things worse.

Are you suggesting that instead of finding out what does help we should keep trying to reduce nitrogen levels at great expense even if it does not help?
DickKarpinski
3.8 / 5 (4) Jul 22, 2008
This talks about what they found but it says nothing about what they actually did find.

WHAT DID THEY DISCOVER?
GrayMouser
5 / 5 (1) Jul 22, 2008
What was the theory? What did they find? What does it mean?

All we've got is pronouncements without any substance.

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