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Researchers Hit N.H. Lakes in Effort to Understand Local Cyanobacteria Blooms

New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
There are about 12 different species of the bacteria across New Hampshire, and they can all have different presentations. Some look like an oil slick on top of the water, but the typical presentation is a blue-green splotch. "If it looks gross, don’t swim in it. Don’t let your pet near it," said Ted Diers, manager of the water division at the Department of Environmental Services.

A team of researchers is sampling lakes across the Northeast this week as part of efforts to better understand what’s causing cyanobacteria blooms.

The blooms have become common in other parts of the country, including the Midwest, and are starting to pop up locally in New Hampshire and surrounding states. Scientists are unsure what’s driving the change.

The effort this week is something of a lake-sampling marathon. Researchers are rushing to collect data on a long list of lakes just as a satellite passes overhead. The goal is to then match up the information they collect on the ground with images from the sky.

“The reason that’s important is because, in a region like ours with so many lakes, you can’t have people out there all the time and measuring,” said Dave Lutz, research assistant professor at Dartmouth College.

But, he said, satellites are often flying over, collecting images all the time. So if his team can determine a relationship between water quality and what the satellite sees, they’ll have a great database to better study changes in the lakes over time.

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