The Effect Of Oxygen Deficiency On Lake Ontario

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Introduction & Background:

The focus of this research project is to identify if there is an oxygen deficiency in lake Ontario through the cause of rising phosphorus levels and effects of climate change. Measuring the dissolved oxygen levels in lakes, rivers and oceans is crucial to determine if the water quality is affecting the organisms in its ecosystem. Low dissolved oxygen levels will have an effect on the organism’s like fish and other species that require oxygen to breathe that are part of that particular ecosystem. If the dissolved oxygen is not substantial enough it can severely deplete the quality of life of the water body in which case the water body can be considered “dead”. This process is called eutrophication. The focus for
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Lake Ontario is the 14th largest lake in the world with a water surface area of over 18,900 km² [Schindler, 2008]. However it is the most polluted lake of all the five Great Lakes [Schindler, 2008]. From industrial runoff, urbanization due to high population density around the lake as well as agriculture runoff, there are many sources of nutrient pollution around Lake Ontario. With the nutrient pollution of the lake in this case I am focusing on phosphorus concentration causing the lake to become anoxic. This can also be seen as the Eutrophication of lake Ontario due to phosphorus levels. Eutrophication occurs when there is a high concentration of phosphorus in a body of water. As a result aquatic vegetation and phytoplankton levels increase in the body of water, also known as an algal bloom [Aquafor Beech, 2005]. Then, when algae decay’s, it consumes oxygen from the water body, resulting in the body of water to become oxygen deficient. This makes the biotic components in the lake, which include fish and shellfish, difficult to survive because of the low dissolved oxygen levels making the phosphorus levels of the lake a limiting factor. Climate Change is the long-term alteration in climate of a particular location or region or for the entire planet (Shrestha, 2014). The other concept that people get confused with climate change is global warming. Global warming is an effect of climate change, it
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