Experts expect climate change to impact algal blooms, but for the better or worse?

Published: January 26, 2022 4:19 PM EST

While we’re not dealing with red tide in Southwest Florida right now, chances are we’ll see it again at some point.

Some experts expect climate change to impact future blooms, but the question is, will it make it better or worse.

Terry Gibson with the American Water Security Project believes Floridians are in the know when it comes to climate change.
 “I don’t think per capita in the entire nation there’s any body of a population that’s more aware that climate change is real, and that we’re suffering from it than Floridians.”

We’re aware of harmful algal blooms like red tide.

A consensus document from the state’s Harmful Algal Bloom/Red Tide Task Force acknowledges climate change can promote blooms through warmer water temperatures, changes in salinity, or changes in rainfall.

Professor Mike Parsons Ph.D. with The Water School at Florida Gulf Coast University, explains “It’ll definitely play a role for red tide. I don’t know if we can really say if it’ll be better or worse. And so that’s what the real question is. And there are studies ongoing.

Parsons said when it comes to climate change, scientists will have to look at warming waters, ocean acidification, and what happens to the rest of the environment.

“It’s not just red tide,” he added. “When red tide blooms, basically, it outcompeted everything else that was there. How will everything else react to climate change? Will they have an advantage with calmer seas with warmer water with more nutrients versus red tide.

The Harmful Algal Bloom/Red Tide Task Force recommends improving public health protections, communications, and management and response in the face of red tide events.

Latest Red Tide Status Report Available by Phone: Call (866) 300-9399 at any time from anywhere in Florida toll-free to hear a recording about red tide conditions throughout the state. Callers outside of Florida can dial (727) 502-4952. Standard calling charges apply.