EP Aeration

Thermal stratification - Destroyer of healthy pond and lake ecosystems

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Courtesy of EP Aeration

IT is early spring in a small reservoir which supports an exclusive condominium and golf coursa development. At and near the surface of the pond, in the layer called th: epilimnion, microscopic plants and animals (phytoplarikt< in and zaoplankton) feed on each other and are fed on in turn by small fish and other animals.

Wind and wave action at the surface causes oxygen from the air to be dissolved and dispersed throughout the surface layer.

The spring suri warms the surface of the water, as it has for the past several days On dry land, the planis, animals, and people rejoice at the sunny weather.

But danger lurks, as the surface layer grows warmer. A temperature difference of as little as three degrees Celsius between top and bottom can result in the formation of thermal layers, or strata.

Literally overnight, the movement of water from bottom to top. and top to bottom through natural convection, stops. Organisms in the lower layers consume the oxygen in the water, which is not recharged The fish and other creatures die.

At the surface, conditions are ripe for an algae bloom. If this layering, or stratification, continues uninterrupted for long, blooms of certain types of toxin-producing blue-green algae will be encouraged by the presence of higher concentrations of nutrients in the water.

The phytoplankton and zooplankton die, along with the organisms that feed on them. The normal food chain ceases to exist.

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