Water water everywhere…

14 Mar 2012

I doubt it’s just coincidence that a newly published article (here) in a scientific journal, an ABA Journal cover story (here) and an environmentalist website (here) are all focusing on different aspects of the same issue – climate change’s impact on water levels.  What is an interesting coincidence is that they all come on the heels of what may be the warmest, least winter-like winter around these parts in living memory.

The Climate Change website is projecting dramatic future impacts on the Country’s coastlines as the pace of climate change is expected to increase and sea levels are anticipated to rise more significantly than in the last century (perhaps as much as 5 feet! in the next 90 years).

The ABA Journal article discusses the quandary posed by this projected sea level change to some island nations that may be entirely wiped out by rising sea levels – positing that for the first time, land may simply disappear.  This would pose tremendous challenges to the indigenous populations and perhaps result in the eradication of long-recognized countries (and throwing their underwater resources up for grabs).

The article in the Journal of Climate reports what most of us around here have known for quite some time – that things haven’t been freezing over in the Great Lakes like they used to.  I remember the story of Harry Houdini trapped under the ice in the Detroit River (which seems more likely marketing than truth) but I don’t recall ever seeing the River frozen over.

A study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan, investigated ice cover on the Great Lakes from 1973 to 2010.  The scientists found that all of the Great Lakes have had less ice over the past 38-year period ranging between 88% less (Lake Ontario) and 38% (Lake St. Clair). Overall, the total loss for Great Lakes ice cover was 71%.

As ice prevents winter evaporation, it appears that, after a slight rebound in lake levels last year, we may see lower lake levels across the Great Lakes – possibly impairing pleasure boating, fishing and commercial shipping.

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