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Environmental Notes

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is under the Dept. of Commerce, provides weekly harmful algae bloom forecasts for Lake Erie. This photo shows algae bloom in Lake Erie on Aug. 27, 2012.
Photo: NOAA

EPA Tackles Lake Erie Bloom

The EPA has announced it will provide $12 million to help ameliorate the harmful summer algae bloom problem in Lake Erie. The bloom, which has impacted drinking water for Toledo, Ohio, is believed caused by water temperatures above 60 degrees, plus high concentrations of potassium, nitrogen and other fertilizer byproducts from the farms and towns that flow into this shallowest of Great Lakes after storms. The goal is to reduce the phosphorous in the runoff by 40 percent, but for now the push is to give water treatment plants the right technology and tools to remove the associated toxins from drinking water.

For more, visit the Ohio State Sea College Program at

Scientists Look to the Oceans for Climate Change Answers

According to the "Davey Jones's Heat Locker" article In The Economist, scientists are pondering why since the year 2000 the average surface-air temperatures on Earth have not risen (the "pause"), but atmospheric carbon dioxide continues to climb.

Because oceans store nine times the sun's heat as the atmosphere and land combined, researchers are looking to the oceans for the answers. A research team has employed 3,000 floats to measure temperature and salinity of the top 2,000 meters of the world's oceans. Their study, published in Nature in 2013 by Yu Kosaka and Shang-Ping Xie of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, argues that "cooling in the eastern Pacific waters explains most of the difference between actual temperatures and models of the climate that predict continuous warming." The research shows the Atlantic and the Southern Ocean are the bodies of water sequestering the most heat, not the Pacific or Indian oceans.

Among the benefits of a green landscape environment, according to Oregon State researcher Perry Hystad, is that babies of mothers from greener neighborhoods weighed 45 grams more at birth than infants from mothers who lived in less green neighborhoods.

"Green" Benefits Births

Researchers at Oregon State University and the University of British Columbia report that mothers who live in neighborhoods with plenty of grass, trees or other green vegetation are more likely to deliver at full term, and their babies are born at higher weights compared to mothers who live in urban areas that aren't as green.

Perry Hystad, an environmental epidemiologist in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State, was the lead author of the study.

The researchers studied more than 64,000 births and report "very pre-term births were 20 percent lower and moderate pre-term births were 13 percent lower for infants whose mothers lived in greener neighborhoods."

"The findings held up even when results were adjusted for such factors as neighborhood income, exposure to air pollution, noise, and neighborhood walkability," according to the researchers from Oregon State University and the University of British Columbia.

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August 24, 2019, 10:35 pm PDT

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