Harmful algal blooms to be more extreme in the future

Harmful algal bloom in the Pamlico River and creeks occurred the summer of 2016.

A recent peer review study released by a team of researches concludes that harmful algal blooms that pose a risk to human health are projected to increase due to the effects of climate change. The team,  which included Hans Paerl, Ph.D. of the UNC Marine Institute, developed a model that predicts a large increase in harmful algal blooms in the Southeast, including the Pamlico and Neuse Rivers.

The research was published just this week in the journal of Environmental Science and Technology. As was noted in the press release, ” The impact of climate change goes way beyond warmer air temperatures, rising sea levels and melting glaciers.“Our study shows that higher water temperature, changes in rainfall, and increased nutrient inputs will combine to cause more frequent occurrence of harmful algal blooms in the future,” noted Steven Chapra, Ph.D and lead author from Tufts University.

Your Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper responded to the latest research with this statement:

“We have already begun to notice the increase in frequency of harmful algal blooms in Eastern North Carolina. This is a problem not only attributable to the impacts of climate change, but also our failure to rein in nutrient pollution. This is a problem that is completely within our ability to control; we can reduce nutrient pollution that feeds harmful algal blooms and we can better tackle climate change. The result of our failures to control both nutrient pollution and climate change will result in loss of swimmable days, an increasing risk to public health, and a tremendous negative economic impact for our region.”

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