Murky lakes now surpass clear, blue lakes in US

August 22, 2018, Wiley

New research reveals that many lakes in the continental United States are becoming "murkier, with potentially negative consequences for water quality and aquatic life. The findings are published in Limnology and Oceanography.

In the 5 years between 2007 and 2012, the dominant type in the United States shifted from clear, blue lakes to greenish-brown, murky lakes. Blue lakes declined by 18% while murky lakes increased by 12%. The investigators cannot definitively say what is causing this shift, but they suspect that land cover and land use patterns within a watershed, as well as changes in climate, may be important factors.

"Blue lakes typically are those that do not show evidence of nutrient pollution or elevated organic matter while murky lakes have high levels of both," said lead author Dr. Dina Leech, of Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. "A shift toward murkiness is a management concern because murky lakes tend to have more algae, including potentially harmful cyanobacteria. And with poor food quality at the base of the food web, over time murky lakes may not be able to support a healthy fishery."

Explore further: Good news for fishermen—'browning' impacts fish less than expected

More information: Limnology and Oceanography (2018). onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/lno.10967

Related Stories

What a lake's colour can tell about its condition

September 21, 2017

With the help of satellite observations from 188 lakes worldwide, scientists at the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) have shown that the warming of large lakes amplifies their colour. Lakes ...

Climate change and its effects on Rocky Mountain alpine lakes

April 9, 2018

Alpine lakes in the Rocky Mountains are important biological hot spots of that ecosystem. These lakes do not have enough nutrients to support large amounts of aquatic life because of the cold climate in the surrounding watershed. ...

Noxious algae gone, but who knows how long

January 3, 2007

Recent storms may have washed away algae blooms in a Florida chain of lakes, but experts said algae threats remain because of pollution feeding the lakes.

Too many nutrients make microbes less responsive

December 11, 2017

Bacteria in lakes play a key role in maintaining water quality by absorbing excess nitrogen and phosphorus. They also help store carbon, which has implications for our climate. But, as it turns out, their ability to do these ...

Recommended for you

Ocean acidification may reduce sea scallop fisheries

September 21, 2018

Each year, fishermen harvest more than $500 million worth of Atlantic sea scallops from the waters off the east coast of the United States. A new model created by scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Doug_Nightmare
1 / 5 (1) Aug 22, 2018
Murky lakes are fertile and productive lakes. Not like the clear - and clearing - blue desert of almost sterile Lake Michigan.

I remember windrows of rotting alewives, excess food for trout, salmon, whitefish, burbot-lawyers. Now with the zebra mussels and conservation efforts the commercial and recreational catch is a tiny fraction of before.

In the Twenties, 50,000 pounds of fish liver came out of Lake Michigan every year for fish liver oil. Be careful of what you wish, you may get it good and hard.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.