PUT-IN-BAY, Ohio — A sizable and harmful algae bloom is expected on Lake Erie this summer.
On Thursday morning, Ohio State's Stone Laboratory hosted the official NOAA Harmful Algal Bloom forecast.
This year's bloom is expected to be one of the five largest in the last 17 years, and is expected to measure at a 7.5 in severity out of a 10.
That scale rates the blooms on overall biomass, not toxicity.
The largest blooms on record were 2011, rated at 10, and 2015, which was rated at 10.5. This year's bloom is expected to fall somewhere between the blooms of 2013 and 2017.
Because of the higher water levels in the lake this year, the water will warm slower than years past, so the bloom is expected in late July. Usually, Lake Erie algal blooms will dissipate in September.
According to Dr. Laura Johnson of Heidelberg University's National Center for Water Quality research, the expected amounts of phosphorous were forecasted to be much higher, but ended up being lower in the runoff because farmers weren't able to get into their fields to fertilize.
"Last fall was really wet; harvest was late and went way into December. I was talking to one friend who said he was harvesting in January. So, we didn't get that fall fertilizer application that we typically get. And we know that it has been hard to get out on the fields this spring as well, so any other application basically didn't happen," Johnson said.
Currently, there is no technology to detect or predict the possible microcystin level that could be created by the blue-green algae. However, researchers do say they are headed in the right direction of tracking the nutrient runoff that feeds the algal growth.
Even so, with so many variables involved with nutrient runoff, we are still a ways away from finding a definitive solution to prevent future algal blooms.
"There's a lot of acres, and if we're thinking there's a silver bullet our there that works, that's not the reality. And then you add the fact that DNP might work under one condition, but if you get a rainy year, or a dry year, or a warm year, or a cold year; these things are variable. This is the complex world that we live in here," Director of the Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory Dr. Christopher Winslow said.
You can learn more about harmful algal blooms at this year's upcoming Understanding Algal Blooms: State of the Science conference hosted by the Ohio Sea Grant on September 12 at the Stranahan Theater.