Changing Temperatures Beginning To Affect Fresh Water Ecosystems
Everybody loves to visit the lake in the summer. Boating, tubing and water skiing are staple warm weather activities for lake communities and vacationers. This past summer was one of the hottest on record, and many people saw their dreams of fun summers on the lake dashed as low water levels and blistering heat made the shore much less appealing.
The truth is, climate change is a real phenomenon that will eventually affect the quality of human lives in very real ways, one very important way being our water supply. The water we’re drinking now is in great danger of being less available for drinking let alone playing in.
Lakes, where a large percentage of our water supply comes from, are changing more quickly than you think due to the rapidly changing climate. Algal blooms and varying conditions due to temperature fluctuations are sending shock waves through fresh water ecosystems which could change our water systems permanently. The past summer was no fluke, and could be a sign of things to come.
Are heat waves from this past summer something we have to look forward to from now on?
Researchers have predicted that climate change will increase the temperature of the planet by two to five degrees Celsius during the life of the next generation. With a booming human population as well, an increase of water consumption is inevitable. Ultimately, we can expect to see a decrease in the opacity of lake water, thus indicating a lack of oxygen available to aquatic life.
For lakes that don’t play host to any fish, this rise in temperature might actually lead to clearer water free of the algae that cause dead zones. The same can’t be said for more crowded bodies of water, however. In such environments, fish will capitalize on the increased heat by eating all of the crustaceans that come with it — crustaceans that are needed to keep algal blooms in check. More heat means more hungry fish, which means less crabs to stop the algae from spreading.
What’s so bad about algae?
Nothing is wrong with algae in theory, but like all parts of our eco-system, there is a natural balance that when thrown off-course can have disastrous consequences in nature. With ever-increasing temperatures, lake conditions will be particularly favorable for the growth of blue-green algae. This is bad for most ecosystems because blue-green algae produce algal blooms that are toxic for marine life. And if you ever eat seafood of any kind that comes from a lake, those toxins can be passed right along to you, as well.
This also affects the drinkability of water in your community. While there are systems in place to filter our water supply and make it safe for us to ingest, these systems can only do so much to protect us from natural water-borne bacteria. Those who rely on well water may also see an increase of water-induced sickness.
One of the best ways to prevent a lack of water is to start conserving water now. We think of water as everlasting, but drinkable water could quickly become a finite resource if we do not take action.
There are numerous ways you can begin conserving water in your home and in your community. Even something as simple as filtering your own water can help. Protecting our water supply today will ensure there won’t be a need to scavenge for drinkable water tomorrow.