Climate Change and Lake Erie

Join us on Thursday, September 15 from 12:00-1:00 pm for the next conversation in the Green Energy Ohio Climate Change Series

Photo Credit: Ohio Sea Grant/Stone Lab

How did you spend your summer? If, like many Ohioans, you spent time on the water or along the shore of Lake Erie, you know what a precious resource it is. The Great Lakes constitute 21 percent of the world’s supply of surface fresh water, spanning eight U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. In addition to being the primary water source for over 40 million people, the Great Lakes support commerce, manufacturing, energy generation, agriculture, and recreation. 

As important as the Great Lakes are to our environment and economy, they cannot escape the impacts of climate change. Lake Erie faces unique challenges as the shallowest of the Great Lakes in a region dominated by agriculture and industrial activity. Adding elements of a changing climate to legacy effects and ongoing inputs creates the potential for greater damage. 

Climate change also underscores the need for understanding the problems, communicating the issues, and finding the solutions. For the fifth in our series of climate impacts, we will talk with three individuals who apply their extensive knowledge of the Lake Erie ecosystem to addressing all three of those needs.

Tom Henry, who will be moderating the panel, began his journalism career 41 years ago, and has focused on Great Lakes environmental-energy issues for most of his 29 years at The (Toledo) Blade. His many awards include one in 2014 from the International Association for Great Lakes Research, honoring Tom as the first newspaper journalist to receive its prestigious Jack Vallentyne Award for 20 or more years of consistent, high-impact Great Lakes science communication. Most recently, he was honored by the Great Lakes Protection Fund as one of three individual recipients of its first-ever Leadership Award for the media. Tom is a member of Central Michigan University’s Journalism Hall of Fame.

Professor George Bullerjahn has been a faculty member at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) since 1988. He earned his undergraduate degree at Dartmouth College, and received his PhD in Biology at the University of Virginia. During his NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Missouri, he worked on the physiology of cyanobacterial responses to oxidative and nutrient stress. At BGSU, his lab has been applying genomic approaches to understanding the establishment, persistence and decline of toxic cyanobacterial blooms in the North American Great Lakes. He currently the Director of the NIH/NSF Lake Erie Center for Fresh Waters and Human Health at BGSU.

Justin Chaffin serves as the research coordinator at OSU’s Stone Lab, located on on Gibraltar and South Bass Islands in Lake Erie. His research focuses on cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie and the environmental factors that promote bloom growth and toxicity, with the goal of developing a forecast for Lake Erie cyanobacterial bloom toxicity. Justin also coordinates a citizen scientist Lake Erie water quality monitoring program in which charter boat captains collect data and water samples once a week. He facilitates visiting scientists who visit conduct research in the labs, use the Lab’s research vessels, and deploy long-term monitoring equipment on our grounds. Additionally, he coordinates the Lab’s undergraduate research program.

Register now for Climate Change and Lake Erie: