SOS for Lake Windermere: UKSA To Help Combat Toxic Algae Outbreaks With Satellites

4th Oct 2023
SOS for Lake Windermere: UKSA To Help Combat Toxic Algae Outbreaks With Satellites

One of the jewels of Cumbria, and a stunning and iconic British lake, lake Windermere is turning green, and toxic algae outbreaks have already made it a no-go zone for freshwater swimming.

The Save Windermere campaign group will now work with Map Impact and the UKSA to study the lake and its inputs.

Lake Windermere’s Alarming Transformation

The project will examine pollution in Windermere, looking at the use of land, treatment works for sewage, and septic tanks, providing data that could prove very useful when tracking the pollution and climate change impacts on Windermere.

The UK Space Agency will fund the project with a Climate Services grant. 

In the summer of 2023, the Freshwater Biological Association issued a statement to warn against swimming in the lake due to an algal bloom that could pose a threat to health. 

Save Windermere’s opinion is that the nutrients entering the lake are fuelling these algal blooms, which can deplete the oxygen levels as well as being toxic to humans and animals.

Looking Back, as Well as Ahead

The group’s main goal will be to forecast future outbreaks as well as other risks to people and the habitat of the area. But the data will be useful in creating a bigger picture of historical damage and impacts, and provide a full understanding of how the lake has got to its current state.

How Satellites Will Help

The projects will look for the concentration of chlorophyll-a in the lake, and the imagery provided will also be used with data from UK mobile networks, which will provide data of how many people are in the area at any given moment.

Richard Flemmings, CEO of Map Impact, spoke about the importance of adding this kind of data to the management of UK lakes: “The lack of evidence about the state of freshwater bodies in England is continuing to hamper protection and effective management. Novel data sources, such as satellites, offer an opportunity to independently monitor lakes and rivers and determine how human activity is influencing these precious natural resources.”

This ongoing project has support from the Environment Agency, the Big Windermere Survey and the Wider Love Windermere partnership.

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