Webinar: Relationships among Climate, Water Quality and Toxic Blooms of Golden Alga in Texas

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View this webinar for more information on how precipitation and air temperature effect water quality.

Date Recorded

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Summary

Changes in air temperature and precipitation patterns associated with global climate change are anticipated to regionally affect the quality and quantity of inland surface waters and consequently their suitability as habitat for freshwater life. In addition to directly affecting resident organisms and populations, these changes in physicochemical traits of aquatic habitats may favor the establishment of harmful invasive species. This project has four objectives: (1) to assemble an electronic database of observed historical water temperatures and other relevant water quality information for selected reservoirs in Texas with significant fisheries resource status; (2) to combine historical records of reservoir water quality, air temperature, and precipitation with projected climate changes to develop statistical models capable of projecting the potential impacts of future climate change on patterns of water temperature and quality in the selected reservoirs; (3) to assess the impact of the projected changes on the physical and chemical environment and on aquatic populations and communities; and (4) to conduct a retrospective analysis of relations that may exist between historical changes in water quality and the relatively recent spread of a harmful invasive species in Texas and at least 19 other states, golden alga.

Using the assembled databases, correlation analyses indicated that reservoir salinity-associated variables (specific conductance, sulfate, chloride) are generally and negatively correlated with longer-term precipitation indicators such as annual average precipitation and precipitation intensity, or number of dry days, and positively correlated with long-term temperature. This is consistent with precipitation-dependent dilution of salts and with temperature-dependent evaporation and salt concentration, respectively. These observations suggest that if climate change-dependent salinization of reservoirs were to occur, it could lead to the continued spread of golden alga blooms (which require relatively high salinity). However, retrospective analysis of water quality failed to confirm the existence of salinity trends in most Texas reservoirs impacted by golden alga (period of record for analysis as large as 1965-2010). In fact, the high-salinity condition of most impacted reservoirs is long-standing and predates the onset of golden alga blooms by many years if not decades. These observations have implications to an understanding of factors that affect reservoir water quality, dispersal mechanisms of golden alga, and management options to control the spread and toxicity of this harmful aquatic species.

Resources

Transcript -- Patino 7.30.13

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