Extension Logo
Extension Logo
University of Minnesota Extension

Blue-green algae in Minnesota lakes

Monitor on lake for algae bloom.

Understanding and predicting harmful algal blooms in Minnesota lakes

Algae blooms can turn water green and smelly, contribute to fish kills and at times produce toxins that pose a health risk to people and animals. These types of algae blooms are referred to as Harmful Algal Blooms or HABs, and their occurrence is on the rise in Minnesota lakes, streams and wetlands.

Algae occur naturally in almost all surface waters. They are an essential source of food for many aquatic organisms and come in many shapes and forms. Under the right temperature and water conditions, blue-green algae (Cyanobacteria) can grow very rapidly and form extremely high-density populations or "blooms." These colonies can then float to the water surface and form a dense layer of scum. More frequent HABs may be triggered by a number of factors including urban and agricultural runoff as well as climate change.

Using new lake-monitoring technology, Minnesota state agencies and scientists are creating a better picture of potential HABs in Minnesota.

Funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative‐Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).

Green algae scum on lake.

Learn more about algae and HAB

From the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

From the Minnesota Department of Health

Partners and funding

Funding by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as approved by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR), has propelled a new round of research focused on understanding and predicting blue-green algae.

Partners in this research include University of Minnesota Extension, University of Minnesota Saint Anthony Falls Laboratory (SAFL), University of Minnesota Duluth Natural Resources Research Institute, the Science Museum of Minnesota, and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).

Read more about our partners

Researchers at St. Anthony Falls Laboratory are working to characterize the water and weather conditions that give rise to blue-green algal blooms in Madison Lake.

At the Natural Resources Research Institute, University of Minnesota Duluth, researchers are examining relationships among geographic, climatic and water quality stressors, and algal responses.

The St. Croix Watershed Research station, part of the Science Museum of Minnesota, gathers information to better predict when, why, and for how long HABs have occurred in Minnesota lakes.

Take this advice from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency: "Summertime in Minnesota: When in doubt, best keep out!"

Researchers at University of Minnesota West Central Research and Outreach Center are investigating the growth characteristics of algae and focusing on the interface between microbiology and chemical engineering.

Reviewed in 2020

Share this page:
Page survey

© 2023 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved. The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.