University of Toledo researchers explore climate change and impact on Lake Erie

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TOLEDO, Ohio — What’s in our water? It is something that researchers at the University of Toledo have been exploring, dating back to the Toledo Water Crisis of 2014. And now, I’m giving you a firsthand look at what that research entails.

“Well, the research is pretty broad,” said Dr. Frank Calzonetti. “We have people from all across campus. Environmental science, engineering, medicine, people in the law school, natural sciences and mathematics, chemistry, geography and planning.”

Dr. Calzonetti is the vice president of research at The University of Toledo. He oversees the university’s Water Task Force, which has conducted research on what’s in Lake Erie, as well as the impacts of climate change.

“One of the things that we’re noticing, in our region, is more storms. And the storms are coming in with a lot of rainfall, and what they do is they bring in more nutrients into the lakes. And so, you know, we’re seeing environmental impacts just because of climate change,” Calzonetti explained.

He says that phosphorus and nitrogen are among the nutrients being found in the lake. He says that they’re not necessarily bad for our water, but too much can make the water overly rich in nutrients — resulting in the algal blooms we’ve come to deal with. And unfortunately for us in Northwest Ohio, algal blooms aren’t the challenge climate change has exacerbated in our environment.

“We are seeing what are called ‘ghost forests’.’ If you drive down Route 2 toward Sandusky, you’ll see these forests that are nothing but trees that are dead. And that’s because water is infiltrating into the forested areas,” Calzonetti added.

So what can the average person do to reduce the impact of climate change? Well, for one, pay attention to it.

“It’s easier to control the climate than it is the weather. The climate, of course, are changes over a long period of time. The weather is what’s going to happen tomorrow, what’s going to happen next week,” Calzonetti spelled out. “So what we’re trying to do is work to support the federal initiatives that we have to control the emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and other pollutants that can trap the earth’s heat — which causes climate change.”

He tells me that his team will continue to be focused on learning more about our ever-changing environment.

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Jaden Jefferson

Jaden Jefferson

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