The Key Questions
To understand the underlying causes of the confirmed and suspicious HABs, the Jefferson Project team is addressing two overarching questions:
- Were the confirmed and suspicious HABs that were observed in various locations produced in those locations or transported by surface currents to those locations?
- Was this an unusual natural event and/or was it somehow connected to human activities?
- What conditions were different in Fall 2020 compared to past years?
Jefferson Project research activities since the HAB event
To answer these questions, the Jefferson Project research team has rapidly moved forward on a large number of research efforts.
Completed research efforts
- Completed nutrient testing of more than 70 water samples from three surveys around the south basin conducted immediately after the confirmed HAB event
- Completed assessment of abundance of total algae and total cynaobacteria during the three surveys of the south basin immediately after the HAB event was confirmed
- Completed assessment of total algae and total cyanobacteria during Fall 2020 compared to previous years based on JP monitoring data
- Improved and validated the JP circulation model in the areas where the HABs occurred to determine how surface currents may have moved the algae
- Assessed historic weather conditions to characterize weather conditions at or around the time of the HAB events (e.g. to quantify the rarity of the calm, warm weather that occurred during the HAB event)
Ongoing research efforts
- Identifying algal composition of more than 70 water samples from three surveys around the south basin conducted immediately after the confirmed HAB event
- Identifying eight years of historic algal samples (2013-2020) to determine the typical populations of Dolichospermum in the lake during the fall
- Assessing historic Dolichospermum fuscum (the species of cyanobacteria of the confirmed HAB) abundance in the lake by reviewing past studies of Lake George, going back several decades
- Continuing analysis of vertical profiler data on physical measurements (i.e. water-column profilers of temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, etc.)
- Examining satellite images of the region before, during, and after the HABs using remote sensing
- Assaying sediment nutrients and akinetes (cyanobacteria resting stages).
The multi-faceted approach of the Jefferson Project research team is intended to understand the underlying causes of the confirmed and suspicious HABs on Lake George. This holistic approach requires a large number of researchers and several months to acquire and analyze all of the data, but this approach will allow us to provide the most complete understanding of the event.