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Projected precipitation increases are bad news for water quality

Increased precipitation from a changing climate could pollute U.S. waterways with excess nitrogen, increasing the likelihood of severe water quality impairment from coast to coast, according to a new study. The effects will be especially strong in the Midwest and Northeast, the researchers found. Rainfall and other precipitation washes nutrients from human activities like agriculture and fossil fuel combustion into rivers and lakes. When these nutrients overload waterways, a process called eutrophication, the results can be dangerous. Harmful, toxin-producing algae blooms can develop, as well as dangerous low-oxygen dead zones. The researchers used models to predict how climate change might affect eutrophication.

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