As we approach the summer months, the threat of severe weather and ecological impacts are becoming more prevalent. Forecasters predict that the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), particularly its warm phase known as El Niño, is poised to generate a sweltering summer across the USA.
El Niño pertains to a periodic warming trend of the equatorial Pacific Ocean, recurring every few years and lasting several months. As part of the broader ENSO climate cycle, its influence on global weather patterns is far-reaching. El Niño episodes are distinguished by a decrease in trade winds, which disrupts the standard distribution of warm and cool oceanic waters. This disruption triggers a plethora of climatic changes, including shifts in temperature and precipitation. Present indications suggest that El Niño is intensifying and is predicted to result in a hot summer this year in the US.
The effects of El Niño aren’t confined to atmospheric changes. As surface water warms, water column stratification is accentuated, favoring cyanobacteria. CyanoHABs form when these bacteria multiply rapidly, leading to dense, visible blooms. These blooms can produce toxins harmful to aquatic life and potentially hazardous to human and pet health. The bacteria also consume oxygen and block sunlight from reaching lower depths, causing hypoxia and the formation of “dead zones” where aquatic life cannot survive. Certain cyanobacteria species can release toxins, posing a threat to fish, human and pet health.
The occurrence of toxic CyanoHABs often results in the temporary closure of lakes for recreational use. Dogs are particularly at risk as cyanobacteria cells can stick to their fur from the surface scum, and when they clean themselves, they can ingest these cells. If these cells release cyanotoxins, it can be fatal for dogs.
These closures mean that our Lake Lifestyle™ activities, such as boating, jet-skiing, kayaking, and fishing, are restricted, putting a damper on the joy of lakeside living. Prolonged issues can even lead to a decline in property values in that no one wants to live on or near a toxic lake.
The forecast presence of El Niño during the summer months tends to increase the likelihood of above-average temperatures in many regions of the USA. The phenomenon disrupts the jet stream, causing it to shift further north than usual. Consequently, areas that typically experience mild summer temperatures may face hotter conditions, while regions that are accustomed to heat may encounter even more extreme heat waves.
Considering the potential challenges that El Niño and the increased risk of harmful algae blooms present this year, there is an urgent need to draw attention to the 2022 US Government Accountability Office report. This report recommended implementing a proactive national program to prevent CyanoHABs and restore our lakes.
The current approach to monitoring and surveillance to detect CyanoHABs when it’s already too late has proven ineffective. The GAO report further highlighted that using toxic chemicals like herbicides and algaecides accelerates the cycle of hypoxia, eutrophication, and the onset of HABs.
As we brace for the El Niño effect this summer, the United States will likely face an uptick in temperatures and an increased risk of harmful algae blooms. Clean-Flo is the exclusive provider of SIS.BIO’s biotechnology-based solutions to tackle eutrophication, hypoxia, and HABs.
Contact us now to learn more on how we can safeguard your lake and preserve your Lake Lifestyle™.