Rabalais Presents at Eutrophication Workshop

Professor Nancy Rabalais participated in the International Workshop on Eutrophication in Paris, April 18-20, at the headquarters of France’s Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.

“The first presentation at the workshop was an analysis of all the various definitions of eutrophication over the years, from simple to complex,” said Rabalais. “But basically, it is the explosive growth of phytoplankton (single-celled plants) and macroalgae because of excessive nitrogen and phosphorus in the water, primarily from human activities and their sources.”

Sources include municipal wastewater, atmospheric deposition and runoff of fertilizers from agriculture fields. Rabalais explained that the negative consequences of eutrophication are toxic algal blooms, loss of suitable habitat for living resources, and likelihood of low dissolved oxygen levels.

Rabalais gave the plenary presentation on marine eutrophication, including the Gulf of Mexico “dead zone.”

The meeting focused mostly on freshwater systems, but results of the workshop will inform the French government’s approach to this problem in their inland waterways.