Characterizing a cyanobacterial bloom in Western Lake Erie using satellite imagery and meteorological data

Wynne, Timothy T., Richard P. Stumpf, Michelle C. Tomlinson, and Julianne Dyble

Limnol. Oceanogr., 55(5), 2010, 2025-2036 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2010.55.5.2025

ABSTRACT: The distribution and intensity of a bloom of the toxic cyanobacterium, Microcystis aeruginosa, in western Lake Erie was characterized using a combination of satellite ocean-color imagery, field data, and meteorological observations. The bloom was first identified by satellite on 14 August 2008 and persisted for > 2 months. The distribution and intensity of the bloom was estimated using a satellite algorithm that is sensitive to near-surface concentrations of M. aeruginosa. Increases in both area and intensity were most pronounced for wind stress < 0.05 Pa. Area increased while intensity did not change for wind stresses of 0.05-0.1 Pa, and both decreased for wind stress > 0.1 Pa. The recovery in intensity at the surface after strong wind events indicated that high wind stress mixed the bloom through the water column and that it returned to the surface once mixing stopped. This interaction is consistent with the understanding of the buoyancy of these blooms. Cloud cover (reduced light) may have a weak influence on intensity during calm conditions. While water temperature remained > 15°C, the bloom intensified if there were calm conditions. For water temperature < 15°C, the bloom subsided under similar conditions. As a result, wind stress needs to be considered when interpreting satellite imagery of these blooms.

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