By: Alex Hines
Summary: The Great Lakes exist in a fragile balance. The massive watershed they draw from is home to nearly 30 million people. Generally, water accumulates in the higher altitude waters of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan before flowing out through Huron, St. Clair, Erie, Ontario, and the St. Lawrence river out to the north Atlantic. This outflow has been in balance with the snow melt and rainfall recharge in the watershed for as long as people have lived in the area. Recently however, this has changed.
The effects of climate change are widespread and still being dissected and discovered. In the Great Lakes region, it’s clear that increased precipitation and average temperature has caused an overload in lake levels. In the October of 2019, water levels rose as much as 3 feet in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, and more than 15 inches in the other 3 great lakes. This has wide ranging consequences, many of Michigan’s lakeside communities rely on their coastlines for tourism revenue, property development, and fishing. Large cities like Chicago, Milwaukee, and Toronto are losing ground on fighting rising water, threatening huge amounts of property.
If the water levels are to correct themselves, the watershed needs to experience a serious dry season, and if recent climate trends continue, that doesn't look to be likely any time soon.
Why we should care? The Great Lakes are a huge part of what makes the Michigan ecosystem so special. I feel that losing coastline on the lakes means losing a part of our state’s identity.
Example News Article:
This article was really educational in content, it contains lots of metrics and graphs that help visualize the problem. Interviews in the article were also varied and informative and came from people on many sides of this issue. Hearing from news sources, fire departments and climate scientists is extremely valuable. The article also provides a video link to a community already ravaged by rising water levels, in the Mississippi river valley, and draws parallels to the issues people living around Lake Erie have experienced. The article also puts snow and rainfall into context, providing real correlative climate data to support their analysis of the general problem.
Science in Action.
Dr. Richard B. Rood is Professor of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering (Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Space Sciences) at the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor.
Dr. Rood’s primary research is in climate change problem solving. He regularly contributes numerical algorithms to go with his research and is a regular consultant to NOAA for their modeling services and works on their Next Generation Global Prediction System. He has published work on climate modeling and has public engagement experience on great lakes regional issues. I find a lot of value in his research particularly on weather and climate as it relates to my blog topic. Professor Rood is a leading authority on how precipitation has effected and will effect levels of recharge in the Great Lakes watershed. His predictive models may be used to find the required inflow and outflow needed to remedy the situation we currently find ourselves in, with constantly rising water levels in all the Great Lakes.