Complex dynamics turn lake water green and brown

Read the full story from Cornell University.

Many lakes and ponds are changing colors—from pleasant blue or clear to murky brown or green, caused by runoff of nutrients and carbon, coupled with warmer temperatures. Scientists and water managers are working to predict conditions that create color changes and algal blooms, but that’s easier said than done.

Researchers have mostly assumed that the ecosystem relationships that lead to these shifts are linear, such that adding more phosphorus to a lake, for example, would directly and proportionately lead to more algae growth. But a new global study of lakes finds that these relationships are much more complex, interrelated and nonlinear.

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