Toxic Algal Bloom in Western Lake Erie

August 4th, 2014 |
Terra MODIS True Color Imagery (click to play animation)

Terra MODIS True Color Imagery (click to play animation)

As happened in 2011, an algae bloom is ongoing over Lake Erie. The current bloom has contaminated at least one water intake for Toledo, Ohio’s municipal water supply with microcystin, a cyanobacter that when ingested can damage the liver and nauseate people. (There is also significant danger to pets). A series of true-color images (from 4 July, 1 August and 4 August) taken from the MODIS Today website, above, (combining visible channels at 0.6465 µm [red], 0.5537 µm [green] and 0.4656 µm [blue]) shows changes in the water color over the past month. (Image Source: MODIS Today) Some changes are apparent over western Lake Erie that are associated with the toxic bloom.

The algal growth is more readily apparent in the false-color imagery below. This red/green/blue image is constructed with 2.1143 µm imagery as ‘red’, 0.8567 µm imagery as ‘green’ and 0.6465 µm imagery as ‘blue’. The animation including scenes from 4 July, 1 August and 4 August shows dramatic growth between 1 and 4 August. Near-infrared channels — such as 0.8567 µm — are sensitive to energy reflected by algae.

Terra MODIS True Color Imagery (click to play animation)

Terra MODIS True Color Imagery (click to play animation)

A series of True-Color images for six days this Spring/Summer is here. The increase in algae in the western part of Lake Erie is apparent, but it seems that the outbreak this year is less wide-spread than the outbreak in October of 2011. A series of False-Color images is here.

[Update, 5 August 2014: Toledo’s water supply has been deemed safe to drink]

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