Lake Ontario Turns Green - KMSP-TV

Lake Ontario Turns Green

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Even though the lake is turning a color many would find nasty for water, it's actually quite normal and experts say "there is nothing to fear." It's a process called "whitening" where certain elements like calcium and carbonate that are naturally present in the water start to harden into blocks of calcite. It's caused by warm weather with the lake temperatures now at their peak. The calcite strongly reflects blue and green light and therefore you get a weird bluish greenish color.

The original source of the color change was thought to be an algae bloom, something known to very harmful to the environment. This type of event is typical of Lake Erie just to the west because it is shallower and often quite warm this time of year. These blooms started appearing in Lake Erie in the 1930's because massive amounts of phosphates were being dumped into the lake from cleaning supplies and agricultural fertilizer. Algae thrive in warm and phosphate rich environments. Lake colors are watched closely because an algae bloom can be quite harmful to humans and animals because it releases toxins such as microcystin that are extremely harmful. Not to mention, algae reduces oxygen levels which can kill off tremendous amounts of fish.

Here is what the largest algae bloom in Lake Erie looked like in 2011…

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