Hot summers raise public awareness of toxic cyanobacterial blooms

Dedmer B. Van de Waal* (Corresponding author), Alena S. Gsell, Ted Harris, Hans W. Paerl, Lisette N. de Senerpont Domis, Jef Huisman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Water quality of eutrophic lakes is threatened by harmful cyanobacterial blooms, which are favored by summer heatwaves and expected to intensify with global warming. Societal demands on surface water for drinking, irrigation and recreation are also highest in summer, especially during dry and warm conditions. Here, we analyzed trends in online searches to investigate how public awareness of cyanobacterial blooms is impacted by temperature in nine different countries over almost twenty years. Our findings reveal large seasonal and interannual variation, with more online searches for harmful cyanobacteria in temperate regions during hot summers. Online searches and media attention increased even more steeply with temperature than the incidence of cyanobacterial blooms, presumably because lakes attract more people during warm weather. Overall, our study indicates that warmer summers not only increase cyanobacterial bloom incidence, but also lead to a pronounced increase of the public awareness of toxic cyanobacterial blooms.
Original languageEnglish
Article number120817
JournalWater Research
Early online date12 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2024


  • Blue-green algae
  • Climate change
  • Global warming
  • Online searches
  • Societal impact
  • cyanoHABs

Research theme

  • Climate change


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