Monday, April 09, 2007

Bad News For Us Locals

First is was the pics of low/no water in the lake by Shutterwi, now it appears that we are in for more trouble.

Lake Superior has been warming even faster than the climate around it since the late 1970s. Its ice cover could completely vanish by the winter of 2040, according to a study by professors at the University of Minnesota Duluth. A popular tourist spot,it is the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area.

Summer surface temperatures on this famously cold lake have increased about 4.5 degrees since 1979, compared with about a 2.7-degree increase in the region's annual average air temperature, the researchers found. The lake's "summer season" is now beginning about two weeks earlier than it did 27 years ago.

"It's a remarkably rapid rate of change," Jay Austin, an assistant professor with the Minnesota's Large Lakes Observatory and Department of Physics, said. The study is based on data collected by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration buoys on the lake and on 102 years' worth of daily temperature readings at a hydroelectric plant near Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Austin said a trend toward warmer winters would mean less winter ice cover. That would in turn lead to more solar radiation of the lake and continued warming.

The lake loses more water to evaporation in a winter without ice cover than it does during the summer. As a result water levels could drop sharply. In recent months, the lake's level has been lower than at any equivalent time since 1926.

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Shutterwi said...

Not good news!

The Lake Superior water levels are dropping and the honeybees are disappearing.

Life itself depends on both water and pollinated food sources. Great.

But we're winning in Iraq! Snark, snark!

hizzoner said...

This is very upsetting.

I remember getting knocked off my little 12 foot sailboat in the inner bay and having to "kick" my way to took about 30 minutes and when I finally got to west end beach my legs were numb...this was in late July...the ambient air temp was well into the 80's but the water temp was only 52. This was in 1979...or '80. W

Worse yet...that's a BIG PERCENTAGE of the region's fresh water supply...actually of the world's fresh water supply...drying up is NOT good news....

I'm almost depressed by this news.