The Great Lakes Environmental Assessment and Mapping project (GLEAM) has shown that of the five Great Lakes, Lake Ontario is the most at-risk from environmental stressors. The Great Lakes, located along the border of southeastern Canada and northeastern US, hold 20% of the planet’s fresh water. If the water in these lakes was spread evenly across the continental United States, it would be covered in about 9.5 feet of water.
The map, which uses a stress index to show the environmental pressure put on the Great Lakes, shows that Lake Ontario is by far the most seriously affected lake; nearly the entirety of the lake is at 80-100% on the stress index, which takes into account the cumulative stress from sources like coastal development, climate change, invasive species, and toxic chemicals.
The most serious threat to Lake Ontario are invasive species, such as zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha), which colonize rapidly and extensively on almost any bare surface, nitrogen runoff, and toxic pollution from mercury and PCBs.
The key to saving the Great Lakes from these environmental stressors, scientists say, is to look at all the problems together rather than individually. There is definitely hope for the Great Lakes, but we need to address the problems now before they get even worse.
(Map source)(Photo source)