School of Engineering
Griffith University International Postgraduate Research Scholarship / Australian Research Council / Brisbane City Council
ARC Number : DP190101848
Harmful algal blooms of the freshwater cyanobacteria genus Microcystis are a global problem and are expected to intensify with climate change. In studies of climate change impacts on Microcystis blooms, atmospheric stilling has not been considered. Stilling is expected to occur in some regions of the world with climate warming, and it will affect lake stratification regimes. We tested if stilling could affect water column Microcystis distributions using a novel individual-based model (IBM). Using the IBM coupled to a three-dimensional hydrodynamic model, we assessed responses of colonial Microcystis biomass to wind speed decrease and air temperature increase projected under a future climate. The IBM altered Microcystis colony size using relationships with turbulence from the literature, and included light, temperature, and nutrient effects on Microcystis growth using input data from a shallow urban lake. The model results show that dynamic variations in colony size are critical for accurate prediction of cyanobacterial bloom development and decay. Colony size (mean and variability) increased more than six-fold for a 20% decrease in wind speed compared with a 2 °C increase in air temperature. Our results suggest that atmospheric stilling needs to be included in projections of changes in the frequency, distribution and magnitude of blooms of buoyant, colony-forming cyanobacteria under climate change.
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