Claim: Climate change could decrease sun’s ability to disinfect lakes

From the RENSSELAER POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE and the “sunlight is always the best disinfectant” department

An increase in extreme rainfall makes it more difficult for UV light to kill pathogens

Troy, N.Y. – Increasing organic runoff as a result of climate change may be reducing the penetration of pathogen-killing ultraviolet (UV) sunlight in inland lakes, rivers, and coastal waters, according to a new study in the journal Scientific Reports. The findings, from a team including researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, points to the potential for an increase in waterborne pathogens.

A warming planet makes it harder for sunlight to disinfect lakes, rivers, and coastal waters. CREDIT

Scientists have already measured an increase in “browning” of the world’s waters, a phenomenon caused by more organic matter washing in from the surrounding land. The new study, led by Miami University in Ohio, analyzed water samples and used a model based at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) to quantify, for the first time, the impact of dissolved organic matter on the potential for UV radiation from the sun to kill pathogens in the water.

Not only does an increase in dissolved organic matter make it more difficult for sunlight to disinfect bodies of water, it also makes it more difficult for water treatment plants to work effectively, said lead author Craig Williamson, a Miami University ecologist. In the United States, 12 to 19 million people already become ill from waterborne pathogens annually.

Kevin Rose, the Frederic R. Kolleck ’52 Career Development Chair in Freshwater Ecology at Rensselaer, gathered much of the data on dissolved organic matter in water samples to assess the potential of UV radiation to kill pathogens.

“Water clarity is dropping in many regions due to factors such as browning, and this research demonstrates that this change is likely decreasing natural disinfection of potentially harmful pathogens,” said Rose.

The team used samples of water from lakes around the world, from Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, to Chile and New Zealand. Tests determined the amount of dissolved organic matter contained in each sample, and the wavelengths of light — including ultraviolet wavelengths — absorbed by that organic matter.

Using the Tropospheric Ultraviolet-Visible model — which simulates how UV light is scattered and absorbed as it passes through Earth’s atmosphere — researchers determined how much UV light hits the surface of the lakes throughout the year. Researchers also analyzed reflection and refraction off each lake’s surface to calculate how much light penetrates the lakes and then, finally, how deeply it reaches.

The Tropospheric Ultraviolet-Visible model also calculates the expected disinfecting power of UV light in a particular body of water based on its dissolved organic matter and other characteristics, a measurement known as “solar inactivation potential (SIP).” In some cases, researchers calculated the SIP across different parts of, or for different time periods in, the same lake.

The results allowed scientists to quantify the impacts of dissolved organic matter. For example, the summertime SIP for one lake in northeastern Pennsylvania — which, along with other regional lakes has undergone significant browning in recent decades — dropped by about half between 1994 and 2015.

In California’s Lake Tahoe, the SIP in the relatively pristine center of the lake can be as much as 10 times greater than at Tahoe Meeks Bay, an area at lake’s edge that is heavily used by humans and has a much higher level of dissolved organic matter.

The scientists also showed how SIP can dramatically decrease after a heavy rainfall event using water samples collected from the region where the Manitowoc River flows into Lake Michigan, which supplies drinking water to more than 10 million people. Modeling based on samples taken before and after a strong storm moved through on June 21, 2011, showed that the SIP may have dropped by as much as 22 percent due to the extra dissolved organic matter that washed into the area in this single storm event.


The study was an outgrowth of collaboration among multiple scientists from different disciplines who serve on the United Nations Environment Programme Environmental Effects Assessment Panel (UNEP EEAP). The data collection and modeling foundations used in this study were funded by multiple grants from the National Science Foundation.

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November 3, 2017 12:06 am

The study was an outgrowth of collaboration among multiple scientists from different disciplines who serve on the United Nations Environment Programme Environmental Effects Assessment Panel (UNEP EEAP). The data collection and modeling foundations used in this study were funded by multiple grants from the National Science Foundation?
Enough said The crooked UN gang!

Reply to  TG
November 3, 2017 5:46 am

Crooked, but funded with your tax dollars from the National non-Science Foundation.

November 3, 2017 12:14 am

Seriously, which is it? Increased rainfall or increased drought? They can’t keep it straight. Increased UV would be due to ozone depletion right? So now its a bad thing when UV is reduced? Scuze me while I pound my head against this concrete block a few more times.

Robert from oz
Reply to  Tom
November 3, 2017 1:35 am

I’m confused with the more rain or more droughts like you , maybe they’re saying the droughts are going to be wetter than what they already are !

Reply to  Tom
November 3, 2017 6:06 am

some idiots read “extreme rainfall”…and ran with it

Reply to  Tom
November 3, 2017 6:27 am

Whichever causes the most problems.
Both at the same time if necessary.

Carbon BIgfoot
Reply to  Tom
November 3, 2017 7:25 am

Having been a permanent resident on a property that abuts one of the largest lakes in Pennsylvania this problem has been on going for years. Having held a certification as a PA Sewage Enforcement Officer the issue has always been grandfathered on-site septic systems, as well as, approved systems not being maintained by week-end warriors from NY and NJ.

Reply to  Carbon BIgfoot
November 3, 2017 6:23 pm

“week-end warriors from NY and NJ.”

That is what I like about blame, it is always someone else. In NY and NJ they blame air pollution on PA coal plants ignoring the few million cars they drive. I always wondered what theory of diffuse cause pollutant to diffuse from low to high.

Blame takes no evidence but does not solve problems either.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Tom
November 3, 2017 8:34 am

Yes, it wasn’t so long ago that the concern was about increased surface UV, although there was scant evidence for any measurable increase. These kinds of alarms always seem to be based on claims of “could,” “may,” “might.”

Water is a pretty strong absorber of UV, even without suspended or dissolved materials. It is interesting that they sampled NZ waterways. It was my observation while there that many of the streams on the North Island had such high levels of tannins that they looked like strongly brewed tea. On the other hand, many of the discharges from South Island glaciers were loaded with rock flour, as glacial streams are wont to be.

I guess we should trust the report. After all, it is based on a model.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
November 3, 2017 10:13 am

But, “The results allowed scientists to QUANTIFY the impacts …”, by establishing their SIP “measurement”.

I’m very confused….

Reply to  Tom
November 3, 2017 10:08 am

They need to cover all the bases.

Andy Pattullo
Reply to  Tom
November 3, 2017 1:35 pm

Let’s not get caught up in details. We can just call it all “mega weather” and it can be anything you’re up want it to me, but always caused by bad things people do because we insist on food, shelter and a reasonable level of civil development.

Andy Pattullo
Reply to  Andy Pattullo
November 3, 2017 1:36 pm

Correction “anything you want it to be”

Tom O
Reply to  Tom
November 3, 2017 2:25 pm

You don’t understand. The more organic material being washed in is from the “greening” from CO2, so you see, “greening” isn’t necessarily good. At least that way it made sense to me, but that doesn’t really mean it makes sense to me. As for rain or drought, it’s first the greening, then the drought to kill the greening, and then the rain to wash the organic material into the lakes which is followed by greening. Bet that doesn’t help either, as it doesn’t help me.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Tom
November 3, 2017 10:13 pm

Don’t ya know? It’s increased rain drought, and it’s rotten too. CO2 the miracle gas. Oh no, it’s only OUR CO2 from fossil fuels that’s the miracle…or whatever they opposite word is.

November 3, 2017 1:00 am

Climate change has been going on for eons so the effects they are writing about have been going on for eons. The climate change we have been experiencing is caused by the sun and the oceans over shich mankind has no control. So what they are writing about mankind can do nothing to change.

November 3, 2017 1:02 am

What utter nonsense. Anyone who has ever had a swimming pool knows sunlight does nothing to retard the growth of algae – quite the opposite.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
November 3, 2017 8:38 am


Reply to  Eric Worrall
November 3, 2017 3:40 pm

Precisely. They are such maroons.

Matt G
Reply to  Eric Worrall
November 4, 2017 8:21 pm

Algae are chlorophyll containing organisms that require sun light to grow and multiply. This article is a load of nonsense and doesn’t make any sense. Aquariums/ponds/streams and rivers are also similar, where too much sun light increases algal growth if other plants don’t use up available minerals instead.

November 3, 2017 1:20 am

Yet another contrived, scaremongering bit of research undertaken by unpaid undergraduate labour to promote a universities status, add to the CV of a professor, and earn income from the climate change slush fund desperate to spend taxpayers money on something.

Only worth immediately ignoring and adding to the growing list of failed claims about climate change.

Tom Harley
November 3, 2017 1:36 am

The education system has damaged science in a big way, if this is the output these days. They need to get out more and throw the models in the fire.
“The new study, led by Miami University in Ohio, analyzed water samples and used a model based at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) to quantify, for the first time, the impact of dissolved organic matter on the potential for UV radiation from the sun to kill pathogens in the water.”
There should not be a second time.

spangled drongo
November 3, 2017 2:07 am

The northern hemisphere has always been a better filter of UV than the southern hemisphere.

A WRC shingle roof in the US lasts more than twice as long as one in a similar latitude in Australia.

But increased organic matter near the shore from stormwater run off? Wow! How rare is that?

Our bed-wetting “scientists” on the Great Barrier Reef are using that line in their claims for more funding to check the coral.

November 3, 2017 2:12 am

How many folk make a habit of drinking untreated water out of a lake?
If in doubt, stick to beer. Always more healthy than water in Victorian London…

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
November 3, 2017 2:27 am

So adding fresh water doesn’t dilute the concentration of additional material in natural runoff anymore – more never before seen “science” . Is there no end to the contradictory and increasingly desperate climatastrophe bandwagon’s nonsense? No, clearly not!

November 3, 2017 3:04 am

Rain washing through ozone creates hydrogen peroxide – the same stuff we use to “disinfect” lakes when nature isn’t doing a very good job of it:

Reply to  Khwarizmi
November 3, 2017 6:29 am

Rain clouds don’t make it up to the ozone layer.

Reply to  MarkW
November 3, 2017 7:30 am

I didn’t mention the ozone layer. But the equation, I admit, is a bit more complicated than just rain + ozone:

“Gas-phase hydrogen peroxide mainly forms upon dismutation of the hydroperoxyl radical, a product of the reactions between atmospheric hydrocarbons, hydroxyl radicals, nitric oxide, and oxygen.
Aqueous hydrogen peroxide originates from the dissolution of the gaseous one, the reduction of molecular oxygen, a series of reactions involving dissolved ozone, and the irradiation of anthraquinones, aromatic carbonyls, and semiconductor oxides.”

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  MarkW
November 3, 2017 8:39 am

But you can find ozone throughout the troposphere, especially in large cities like LA. Have you noticed that you get a sunburn more quickly high in the mountains?

November 3, 2017 3:41 am

We were all going to die because the ozone hole was letting more UV reach the Earth’s surface. Now we’re all going to die because of not enough UV. Ya just can’t win.

Reply to  commieBob
November 3, 2017 3:54 am

The following is worth a try to prevent drowning in CACA deluge: evacuate Antarctica and disband Montreal Protocol. Should count as win-win on both sides of the debate.

Reply to  jaakkokateenkorva
November 3, 2017 4:04 am

It seems that the Montreal Protocol isn’t doing much good anyway. link The ozone hole is at a record low but there are still lots of ozone destroying chemicals in the atmosphere. In other words, the size of the ozone hole is due to natural variability.

Mickey Reno
Reply to  jaakkokateenkorva
November 3, 2017 10:58 am

No, we can’t abandon Antarctica! That’s where the last vestiges of humanity will go to live when the rest of the world gets too hot, like in the movie On the Beach, with Fred Astaire driving a classic racing car in Australia, waiting for the cloud of Cobalt-thorium G to kill them all off. Antarctica is where I plan to move with my beloved, Rachel Maddow, where she will become one the mothers of all future humanity, (as soon as she decides to no longer be a lesbian, and accepts my proposal of marriage, and the rest of the globe becomes uninhabitable, of course).

/Not sarc at all, I wouldn’t joke about motherhood, Fred Astair, global warming or Rachel Maddow

Reply to  Mickey Reno
November 3, 2017 11:03 am
Clyde Spencer
Reply to  commieBob
November 3, 2017 8:41 am

Goldilocks Syndrome!

November 3, 2017 3:44 am

Is there nothing good that “climate change” can do in the eyes of the alarmists.

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
November 3, 2017 6:29 am

In the eyes of the extreme “environmentalists”, any change if it’s caused by man, is evil.

Reply to  MarkW
November 3, 2017 8:38 am

It is not “extreme environmentalists” it now nearly the whole movement. They believe that ALL CHANGE in the natural world is caused by human activity. They believe that the more capitalistically based the activity the worse, the more evil, the change. The USA gets no credit for being the most environmental nation in history. They want us to be “environmentally perfect” which means doing away with any and all activities they believe might be harmful, that is that causes any change in the natural world.

November 3, 2017 3:49 am

UV radiation is absorbed by ozone (O3) layer (not by CO2)

but enough passes through to burn exposed nordic skin in a couple of hours

Powerful enough radiation also to ‘justify’ UN Montreal Protocol. Right?

Here’s the puzzle: the more ozone layer absorbs sun’s UV radiation, the more it seems to cool it. Or is it the outgoing CACA radiation in well-mixed atmosphere, first cooling the troposphere and then warming the ozone layer? Bizarre to say the least.

Peta of Newark
Reply to  jaakkokateenkorva
November 3, 2017 4:09 am

Maybe bizarre because it is UV that creates ozone in the first place? The bizarre-ness comes from getting cause & effect the wrong way round
The oxygen-oxygen bond can/does resonate hard enough to break when excited by UV, creating oxygen radicals that are the angriest little critters you’ll find almost anywhere. They will oxidise anything – even diatomic oxygen to create ozone.
But of course ozone is extremely vulnerable as it contains 3 O-O bonds so more UV coming in will split it wide open.

Ozone, high in the atmosphere, is created by UV – it is not an inheritance from our forefathers as warmists and their ilk seem to imagine. They explain its destruction in a myriad of ways yet never say where it comes from. Now that *is* bizarre.

Reply to  Peta of Newark
November 3, 2017 5:28 am

Indeed. O3 is also highly reactive and reverts back to O2 during the night/winter.

O3 has a distinctive smell, which human is able to sense already in harmless concentrations. Thunderstorms create it. I open windows afterwards to let it in. Low concentration O3 oxidizes and refreshes air effectively and safely. O3 is used also for purifying water, even communally in Los Angeles. A good thing too. O3 doesn’t accumulate, degrades rapidly and its sole residue is oxygen or in water perhaps H2O2 for a short duration. Hospitals pour the latter directly on wounds as a disinfectant, instead of switching on a UV lamp.

Of course, natural existence, rarity, rapid degradation and benefits of surface O3 don’t prevent CACA alarmists, e.g. EPA, to consider it as a pollutant and blame mankind for it.

Bruce Cobb
November 3, 2017 4:25 am

Whoa Nellie. They just assume “an increase in extreme rainfall”, which is the foundation for their other claims of more runoff, more pathogens in water, etc. Deconstructing their assumption further is the Warmist “extreme rainfall” myth, which itself is part of their baseless “extreme weather” claim, the idea being that before, what we had was just normal weather, and now it is “extreme weather”, which is a complete fabrication. They then build on their initial lie, claiming that it is “increasing”.
So, their rubbish paper is built on rubbish.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
November 3, 2017 4:49 am

And…this rubbish was published after it was “Peer Reviewed” by “scientist” – patting themselves on the backs and clapping like seals in a circus sideshow – by like minded Alarmist for another study that supports their ideologies.

Tom in Floirda
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
November 3, 2017 5:09 am

Ah, a Keith Jackson fan.

Peta of Newark
November 3, 2017 4:32 am

It is just soooooooooooooooooo awful innit?

Is not ‘brown water’ caused by suspended minerals? The mineral fraction of dirt? The brown water seen everywhere in the sensationalist MSM whenever it rains anywhere? The brown muddy slime left behind when ‘The Flood’ subsides?

The really sad thing is that the water SHOULD NOT be brown.
It matters not if you or anyone else says “All the flood water I’ve ever seen is brown – that’s just the way it it”
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
Brown flood water represents the physical erosion of dirt (typically farmland soil) It is a crime against all of nature.

Having got that off my chest, these little fools may be seeing what they’re seeing – increased organic stuff (bacteria esp) in the water but have got Cause & Effect entirely back-to-front. No surprises there huh?

Can I suggest that this extra organic came from a fertilising effect of the brown?
The brown colour is of course caused by iron and the dirt particles will be loaded with phosphorus – BOTH vital plant and bacterial nutrients that are in epic and chronic short supply within all aqueous environments.

The lovely thing about this story is that it goes perfectly full circle.
Ask a farmer who *really* cares about his dirt (organic hippy types of course) and they, to a (wo)man will tell you that sun does in fact ‘sterilise the soil’
What they mean is that the sunlight kills the soil bacteria and it is they that actually feed any and all growing plants. (By producing acidic waste (Humic Acid) which erodes the mineral fraction and releases the various and myriad things that plants need to grow, thrive and resist attack)

Many times I will rave about ‘soil organic matter’ (SOM) and that it comes from dead plants.

It is an easy trap to fall into to believe that, if you look for this SOM ‘stuff, you’ll be looking for fragments of leaves, stalks, twigs etc etc.
Wrong again.
The SOM is mostly, probably easily 97% composed of actual bacteria – a greater number of bacteria in a single handful of good dirt than the number of humans who have, do and ever will exist. No argument there.

So here we have, what this guy is seeing is real life soil erosion, both physical (removal of mineral particles) and chemical (destruction, via sunlight) of the SOM

And when that SOM reduces in quantity in the dirt, so does the amount of water that it retains, so when The Sun shines on the dirt, its temperature rises more than it did when the dirt was really damp/wet.
And the destroyed SOM are almost instantly oxidised to you-know-what —- Carbon Dioxide,
As witnessed by OCO satellite.

We’ll get some *real* clothes on the Emperor yet but it’s going be a long hard slog

Reply to  Peta of Newark
November 3, 2017 5:54 am

That’s it, Gaia is full of surprises on its own

Reply to  jaakkokateenkorva
November 3, 2017 7:08 am

Used to like Attenborough documentaries but cannot abide listening to the idiotic halfwit now. He makes Prince Charles look like an intellectual giant.

Reply to  jaakkokateenkorva
November 3, 2017 8:25 am

Same here, but you might enjoy the following too: he hates rats. Not only BBC sent him to Karni Mata rat temple in India for ‘Life of Mammals’ episode 6/10 ‘Opportunists’, but the film crew is claimed to have smeared banana on the stool he was sitting on for convincing images. From 44:44 onwards at

Reply to  Peta of Newark
November 3, 2017 10:39 am

Hey Peta,

That “typically farmland soil” was deposited in the farmers field prior to the farmer showing up to take advantage of it. How did it get there?

We might be talking about two different things; I don’t see much hillside farming, so if you are talking about farming hillsides then, “nevermind”.

Edward Hurst
November 3, 2017 4:33 am

So rain muddies lake waters and stops the light penetrating. The rain stops, the mud settles or is washed out to sea and the water returns to its normal state subject to normal fluctuations. Some years there is more precipitation, sometimes at an increased rate. Some years less precipitation with no flooding.
The only message I’m getting is ‘eliminate the human beings’ that do stuff around lakes and stop causing climate change by burning fossil fuels and pumping out carbon dioxide.
Mmmm….ok….here’s my first hand experience…I am part owner of Yetholm Loch in the Scottish Borders. It is a small rare and stunningly beautiful place. The weather varies as per normal. Sometimes the water is so clear you can see the bottom of the loch several feet below. Sometimes muddied by rainfall bringing alluvium and organic matter down streams and off adjacent land. Often some condition within this range. Normal and probably fairly typical of the last ten thousand years or so.
However, those pesky human beings have been busy….thousands of years of habitation with increased woodland clearance, drainage and subsequent agricultural run off has resulted in less peripheral marsh to buffer and filter residue input, algal blooms in warm sunny weather that are exceptionally good and blocking light and thrive on the fertiliser washed off farmed land, silage effluent from a farmer who does not care, part burnt plastic and rubble bulldozed into the water by another farmer clearing the way for a wind farm (tried to get permission four times and got stopped) closely followed by getting permission for an oversized AD plant and carving out a huge quarry in the hillside above the loch adding to run off, building half the industrial complex before getting ‘paused’ by Brexit and not planting the required visual screening.
Clearly humans cause damage and more of them more so! However, the most significant ongoing damage is being CAUSED BY policies designed to combat the nonexistent skydragon CAGW (or its current variants).
Forget Carbon Dioxide and it’s seemingly tiny effect…the problem is ignorance, greed and political correctness resulting in real physical damage to places like The Yetholm Loch wildlife reserve as described above. Note the word ‘reserve’ – a place of wildlife refuge, a place where wildlife should be safe. Not a place surrounded by bird and bat chomping eco-crucifixes, quarries, industrial AD plants with 24hour noise and night time security lighting.
On the ground focus should be stopping the silage effluent (a real pollutant) more intelligent use of fertilisers and a balanced use of land that can support both human needs and that of native wildlife.
This is just a snippet of the damage I am witnessing through misguided Climate policies…the 198 proposed extremely large, landscape trashing wind turbines threatening this part of Scotland, is another story…..

November 3, 2017 4:45 am

…and I thought the “sunlight as a disinfectant” was going to be used as a metaphor for shining the light of truth on the faux science of this…my mistake.

November 3, 2017 5:09 am

What is truly mystifying to me is how people can even write sublimely transparent pseudoscientific garbage like that. How do they actually manage to haul their useless carcasses out of bed and into the office to write what they must at some level know is a pack of lies masquerading as science. I could not do that for all the grant money in the world. They must be very, very strange individuals indeed and benchmark Dunning-Kruger victims to a man/woman/48 other assorted gender designations.

Sweet Old Bob
Reply to  cephus0
November 3, 2017 7:59 am

Well…..they don’t SIP the koolaid , they gulp it down ….. no chance of seeing the light through that dense cloud of FDC 40 .

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  cephus0
November 3, 2017 8:55 am


Graduate Advisor: “Well now, Virginia, if you expect to get this published, you’re going to have to put something in here that is socially relevant and supports the consensus position! Something like, ‘AGW/climate change will create intolerable future conditions where all the humming birds, baby seals, and panda bears die horrible, excruciating deaths resulting from too much or not enough UV, dying of thirst from drought or being washed away by floods — or all of them at the same time.'”

Tom in Floirda
November 3, 2017 5:14 am

It might help if people would stop pooping and peeing while swimming.

Reply to  Tom in Floirda
November 3, 2017 6:39 am

Whoa! You are talking about sacrificing to the extreme.


Sweet Old Bob
Reply to  Tom in Floirda
November 3, 2017 8:07 am

google ” bathroom break at a swimming pool ” … put your coffee down first …

Steve Borodin
November 3, 2017 5:37 am

In the UK at least the magic words to get grant money for research are ‘climate’ and ‘change’. That is why, if you want to study Javanese snails or 16th century Austrian wigmaking, you have to find some way of introducing the words ‘C’ and ‘C’ and you have it made. Sure, its corrupt and incredibly wasteful but what else would be do with these third rate scientists?

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
November 3, 2017 5:38 am

PETA of Newark rightly reminds us that brown water is full of minerals. That is precisely why it has been beneficial to farmers throughout human history. The reason that civilizations first arose in the great river valleys of the Near East and Indus was precisely because annual floods covered the land with good new brown mud. Growing food was easy and in the Nile in a good year two, perhaps even three, lots of crops could be obtained. That is why the crop surpluses allowed time for people to create a structured society and do architecture, invent writing, etc etc.

But now it seems brown water is suddenly bad. (Unless of course it is sewage contamination,but as someone pointed out, you wouldn’t choose to drink river water unless you were somewhere near its cleaner source).

Reply to  Moderately Cross of East Anglia
November 3, 2017 7:35 am

And always drink upstream from the herd.

Reply to  barryjo
November 3, 2017 10:54 am

“Enemies all around.
The Bashkai are the worst.
All town comes out and pisses
downstream when we go bathing.”

November 3, 2017 5:41 am

‘Not only does an increase in dissolved organic matter make it more difficult for sunlight to disinfect bodies of water’

Bodies of water are not disinfected. Good thing, cause our very lives depend on plankton.

Joe Crawford
Reply to  Gamecock
November 3, 2017 10:05 am

Wow, I guess we can thank Academia for giving us a whole generation of students with one track minds. It’s more than a bit funny that they blame the increase in dissolved organic matter on increased rain caused by Global Warming. I guess it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that there has been an approximately 20% increase vegetation due more to a measured increased CO2 that a speculated increase in rain.

November 3, 2017 5:45 am

I grew up in St. Louis. In grade school, in the late 1960’s, we took a field trip to the water treatment plant along the banks of the Mississippi. It was fascinating! They showed us how they took that muddy Mississippi water and turned it into clear drinking water for a half a million people. Apparently it was not an expensive process, because the municipal water in St. Louis is cheaper than any city I have ever lived or heard of.

My point is that the technology to turn very brown water into clear drinking water cheaply has been around for a very long time, and if brown water was a health threat, the Central US would be a dead zone. This just looks like another one of those hobgoblins Milken warned us about.

Reply to  jclarke341
November 3, 2017 8:28 am

A bit of chemical oxidation at the intake (ozone or chlorine dioxide), ferric sulfate at the inlet to the in-line static mixer, then some high molecular weight poly-DADMAC at the agitator, add PAC if the taste and odor contributing algae and fungus is prevalent, then settling in the settlers, filter through anthracite/GAC/sand to below 0.15 NTU, chlorinate and ammoniate (for chloramine production) and send on out to the public.

I supervised a 50 MGD plant for a few years which served about 250,000 folks. We were treating a substance flowing through the Brazos River called water. It is essentially the effluent of Central Texas cities and municipalities by the time it reaches the GoM.

We were always in the running for the “Best Tasting Water in Texas”.

Now I teach kids chemistry, or at least make an attempt for 180 days a year.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  PRDJ
November 3, 2017 9:04 am

The best tasting water I have ever encountered was from a short tributary stream feeding Hayfork Creek in Trinity County (CA). I used to regularly bring 5 gallons home with me after camping there. I walked up it once to look for the source. It was obvious that with all the pine needles and branches lying in the creek bed that it had a high organic content. I suspect that it was the organic material that gave it the good flavor — weak tea. Also, the heavy tree canopy prevented much UV from reaching it.

James Beaver
November 3, 2017 6:45 am

The cause couldn’t possibly be increased human presence, instead of some climatic change?

In my outdoor experience many people are introducing human waste far too close to streams and lakes.
Perhaps people visiting the lakes ought to review the “Leave No Trace” practices:

November 3, 2017 6:50 am

“Modeling based on samples taken before and after a strong storm moved through on June 21, 2011, showed that the SIP may have dropped by as much as 22 percent due to the extra dissolved organic matter that washed into the area in this single storm event.”

Yes.. and?

What about a week or a month later??? Wouldn’t you expect more suspended solids after a storm and run-off…. I must be missing something… it seems to me common sense is a victim of rising CO2 levels…

Reply to  Pixie
November 3, 2017 8:32 pm

When they have 30 years of data they can get back to me for an opinion.

November 3, 2017 6:58 am

Limnology & Oceanography Letters
Centennial-long trends of lake browning show major effect of afforestation
Emma S. Kritzberg
5 June 2017


To fully disentangle the relative importance of land-use, climate change and S deposition to lake DOC and water color, modeling with site specific information on land-use would be the best way forward. The results presented here suggest that the major transition in land-use in this region is likely a major factor driving lake browning, and that this browning has been augmented by climate change [esp., “increased growing days” and “climate mediated greening”]. While historical changes in S deposition have not been the sole driver, it has most probably played an important role by delaying the browning through enhanced adsorption of organic matter during the period of high deposition. Thus, the high rate at which water color has increased in the past few decades should be highly influenced by reduced S deposition. The data and analysis presented here is specific for this particular region, but it should be noted that the transition to forestry was facilitated by the introduction of artificial fertilizers, which reduced the land area required for cultivating crops and supporting animals that produce manure—a development common to many parts of northern Europe.

The Original Mike M
November 3, 2017 7:15 am

Meanwhile, diseases of almost every kind continue to decrease around the world thanks greatly to the increase of cheap fossil fuel energy used per capita.
comment image

November 3, 2017 8:26 am

No matter what they can think of, it is bad, it is getting worse, it is caused by Climate Change, it never happened when climate used to just change all the time by itself, it is all our fault, and it needs more study…lots more study, so they can work out a few more of the maybe’s, could’s, and perhaps’s.

November 3, 2017 8:41 am

If only these groups of people groping for more money would stop using the subjunctive… the use of ‘would, could, should,’ or ‘may’ is a dead giveaway to their real goal.
If they get enough cash from the cash cow (taxpayers) they can do another bit of formulating and come up with another way to use the subjunctive approach to ensure a well-fed bank account.

November 3, 2017 9:53 am

A “What if?” study strikes again. When will they end? Based on an untested hypothesis of a very low probability out-of-control global warming event, we now should be concerned about an untested hypothesis of very low probability infected lakes. Give us a break! More tax dollars down the drain. Research at universities is completely out-of-control. To quote Bob McNair, “We can’t have the inmates running the prison.” (Don’t have a conniption. It’s a figure of speech.)

November 3, 2017 10:08 am

Why is it that AGW only causes bad things to happen. You would think there would have to be some positives.

Reply to  Jay
November 3, 2017 12:15 pm

In point of fact, higher CO2 and a warmer planet is good news all the way down.
Studying CACA, on the other hand, causes a pathological and enfeebling thickening of the bony layers of the cranium, and seems to cause actual knowledge to abandon the brain like A-list stars from an accused Hollywood producer.
In fact, the effect is so powerful, merely identifying as a “climate scientist” causes a condition that closely resembles what has been called “going full retard”.

Gunga Din
Reply to  menicholas
November 3, 2017 1:13 pm

CACA produces brown water.
Who knew?

Michael Jankowski
November 3, 2017 10:18 am

Need to ban walking, hiking, biking, etc, in these watersheds. No more eco-tourists or people enjoying nature.Causes erosion leading to brown water.

Gunga Din
November 3, 2017 2:00 pm

Increasing organic runoff as a result of climate change may be reducing the penetration of pathogen-killing ultraviolet (UV) sunlight in inland lakes, rivers, and coastal waters, according to a new study in the journal Scientific Reports.

First the nuts claim “carbon” is polluting the air (in the form of CO2), now the claim “carbon” is polluting the water (in the form of natural organics).
I have to wonder what they see when they look in a mirror?

PS I hold EPA certifications for both water and wastewater treatment.
I know which certification is best suited for the treatment of this study.

November 3, 2017 3:54 pm

I believe it’s a whole lot better now than when that “Sea of buffalo” existed in the plains. All that defecation in the water must have been nasty.

November 3, 2017 4:24 pm

Even pure water absorbs UV light quite strongly. Which is fortunate because otherwise it might actually kill aquatic organisms.
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November 3, 2017 6:04 pm

This is why we need more wind turbines. The old kind that chop up birds. Birds poop every where. They seem to have an affinity for my sail boat. The windfarms on both sides of the river do seem to make a difference.
A few years ago our small yacht club got a government grant for a pump out station. It was the brainstorm from the member who works at the local college. While I thought the project was a waste money and voted against it, I said nothing.

I wanted to ask a rhetorical question, do bears sh!t in the woods? Will the goverment mandate fish and birds use the dump station?

I think clean drinking water is a basic human right. I have only read about epidemics from water borne pathogens because I live when we have clean drinking water.

Do not drink untreated surface water.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Retired Kit P
November 4, 2017 9:45 am

or eat yellow snow.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Tom in Florida
November 4, 2017 2:50 pm

Yellow might be OK.
But brown snow? 😎

Gary Pearse
November 3, 2017 6:21 pm

So, class think of all the things that could be bad about:
1)lots of sunny days
2) lots of cloudy days
3)no wind
4)no calm
6) warm

michael hart
Reply to  Gary Pearse
November 3, 2017 9:59 pm

Yes. I guess that all the extra run-off in their model indicates that there is no drought caused by this particular version of global warming. These authors seem to have got hold of the flooding version.

Of course somebody else will have a different version of global warming that predicts the exact opposite, but they are never expected to be consistent with either each other, or reality. That would require a much larger grant.

Mike Rossander
November 7, 2017 8:33 am

Increased organic matter in water means more life. That increased organic matter had to come from somewhere – and there’s no evidence that any place else is being depleted, therefore there must have been a net increase. So according to their own hypothesis, climate change is good for living things.

Now, let’s challenge their assessments and methodology. How much of this is “climate change” and how much is all the rest of the meddling and messing that we humans do to the environment? From their own press release, two areas of the same lake (and presumably experiencing identical climate changes) exhibit vastly different rates of organic matter with the much higher levels at the site with the most human interaction. Wouldn’t a first hypothesis be that it was the human interaction (agricultural runoff, waste discharges, land-use changes that increase erosion, etc) rather than the climate that caused the difference?

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