Lake Erie is known to have large places without oxygen (aka “dead zones”) in the summer. During the summer, the bottom layer of the lake stays relatively cool while the upper layer stays warm. After organisms grow on the upper layer, they fall down to the lower layer to decompose, and this process of decomposition uses up a great amount of oxygen. Lake Erie has relatively little oxygen to begin with, so when organic material decomposes in the lower layer of the lake in summer, it has less oxygen than most lakes. One factor that may contribute to these dead zones is nonnative quagga and zebra mussels, which can pull more nutrients to the lake floor. Another factor is global warming, which causes the upper layer of the lake to stay warmer than the lower layer of the lake, allowing for more organic material to grow and eventually decay.
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