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Warming climate threatens health of New Hampshire’s lakes, streams – WMUR Manchester

New Hampshire has about 1,000 lakes and ponds and thousands of miles of rivers and streams, but global warming is starting to threaten some waterways.Many Granite Staters enjoy swimming, fishing and boating on lakes, ponds and rivers, but as the climate warms, scientists are seeing some negative impacts on New Hampshire’s freshwater ecosystem.”We are seeing an increase in cyanobacteria blooms in New Hampshire, and it’s likely a cause of nutrients and temperatures,” said Amanda McQuaid, a specialist in ecotoxicology and professor of lake ecology at the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension.>> Interactive: Climate change and New HampshireMcQuaid said bacteria is becoming more prevalent in New Hampshire’s lakes and ponds, a trend that will continue.”We might expect to see an increase in cyanobacteria in New Hampshire if we see some significant increase in warming temperatures,” she said.Along with the rise in temperature, New Hampshire is also seeing more storms with higher amounts of precipitation. The average annual rainfall in Concord in the past 30 years is higher than any previous 30-year span going back to 1901. Andrea LaMoreaux, president of New Hampshire Lakes, said the rain is playing a role in increasing the amount of bacteria in the state’s lakes. “When we have these bigger storms, we have more water running off soil, and this pollution and soil gets into our lakes and basically helps that bacteria grow,” she said.There are some small steps every property owner can do to help prevent added soil and pollution from entering lakes.”Doing simple things at your property, like having lots of vegetation to soak up that rainwater and to keep the soil in place,” LaMoreaux said. “Those are simple things that everyone can do to help minimize that polluted runoff water.”Invasive plants such as milfoil are also becoming more common, as warmer water provides a good environment for growth. “As the climate warms and becomes more similar to the southern part of the country, we’ll have some of those plants and animals start to survive here in our lakes, causing all sorts of ecological issues,” LaMoreaux said.Speaking of animals, as water temperatures climb, New Hampshire’s freshwater fish also face difficulties. John Magee, fish habitat biologist for New Hampshire Fish & Game, said streams and lakes might become unsuitable for cold-water fish.”We’re particularly interested in wild brook trout,” Magee said. “Essentially, in some places, they’re most likely going to go away. The water’s going to get too warm for them, and those populations are simply going to die out. At a minimum, those populations will be reduced.”According to a lot of model predictions, New Hampshire can expect drier summers and longer periods without rainstorms. Recent dry stretches are already having an impact.”We have done a lot of work where we’ve been out doing our standard work surveys, and we go back to a stream a couple years later, and it’s completely dry,” Magee said. “The years just before that, there was a very strong, seemingly healthy wild brook trout population.”LaMoreaux said Granite Staters can do small things to help, such as adding native plants to their backyard.

New Hampshire has about 1,000 lakes and ponds and thousands of miles of rivers and streams, but global warming is starting to threaten some waterways.

Many Granite Staters enjoy swimming, fishing and boating on lakes, ponds and rivers, but as the climate warms, scientists are seeing some negative impacts on New Hampshire’s freshwater ecosystem.

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“We are seeing an increase in cyanobacteria blooms in New Hampshire, and it’s likely a cause of nutrients and temperatures,” said Amanda McQuaid, a specialist in ecotoxicology and professor of lake ecology at the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension.

>> Interactive: Climate change and New Hampshire

McQuaid said bacteria is becoming more prevalent in New Hampshire’s lakes and ponds, a trend that will continue.

“We might expect to see an increase in cyanobacteria in New Hampshire if we see some significant increase in warming temperatures,” she said.

Along with the rise in temperature, New Hampshire is also seeing more storms with higher amounts of precipitation. The average annual rainfall in Concord in the past 30 years is higher than any previous 30-year span going back to 1901.

Andrea LaMoreaux, president of New Hampshire Lakes, said the rain is playing a role in increasing the amount of bacteria in the state’s lakes.

“When we have these bigger storms, we have more water running off soil, and this pollution and soil gets into our lakes and basically helps that bacteria grow,” she said.

There are some small steps every property owner can do to help prevent added soil and pollution from entering lakes.

“Doing simple things at your property, like having lots of vegetation to soak up that rainwater and to keep the soil in place,” LaMoreaux said. “Those are simple things that everyone can do to help minimize that polluted runoff water.”

Invasive plants such as milfoil are also becoming more common, as warmer water provides a good environment for growth.

“As the climate warms and becomes more similar to the southern part of the country, we’ll have some of those plants and animals start to survive here in our lakes, causing all sorts of ecological issues,” LaMoreaux said.

Speaking of animals, as water temperatures climb, New Hampshire’s freshwater fish also face difficulties. John Magee, fish habitat biologist for New Hampshire Fish & Game, said streams and lakes might become unsuitable for cold-water fish.

“We’re particularly interested in wild brook trout,” Magee said. “Essentially, in some places, they’re most likely going to go away. The water’s going to get too warm for them, and those populations are simply going to die out. At a minimum, those populations will be reduced.”

According to a lot of model predictions, New Hampshire can expect drier summers and longer periods without rainstorms. Recent dry stretches are already having an impact.

“We have done a lot of work where we’ve been out doing our standard work surveys, and we go back to a stream a couple years later, and it’s completely dry,” Magee said. “The years just before that, there was a very strong, seemingly healthy wild brook trout population.”

LaMoreaux said Granite Staters can do small things to help, such as adding native plants to their backyard.

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