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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE? MAYBE.....

7th Grade students from Boynton Middle School joined us on the lake today and yesterday (May 24&25) and found that the Spring Clear-Water phase has apparently begun two weeks early on Cayuga Lake this year! The clear-water period marks the point at which rapidly growing plankton populations outgrow nutrient loading, causing a temporary population crash. The resultant lack of plankton in the water causes Secchi disk clarity to rebound from about 3M to well over 5M for a period of days.

Over the past five years, the clear-water phase has jumped around a bit, but appears to be happening earlier, which could signal an impact from global climate change. However, the jury is out. Over such a short time-period, natural variations in weather cannot be ruled out. We'll see what the real story is, but it will take more years of study!

Boynton students noted quite a bit of change on the lake over two days. Sub-surface temperatures rose dramatically in parts of the south shelf, and water clarity continued to decline over most of the south end of the lake, being reduced to 1.5M near East Shore Sailing club! Pictures coming soon!

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