Study: some parts of Great Lakes warming faster than others

In a new study, scientists from NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL), the University of Michigan, and other institutions decided to take a closer look at the Great Lakes basin for changes in water temperature and ice cover over time. The paper, which will be published in the journal Climatic Change, found that some parts of the Great Lakes warm faster than others and specific localities experience significant anomalous variations.

Panel a shows the change in seasonal ice cover duration (d/yr) from 1973 to 2013, and panel b shows the change in summer surface water temperature (°C/yr) from 1994 to 2013. Maps from Mason, L.A., Riseng, C.M., Gronewold, A.D. et al. Climatic Change (2016). doi:10.1007/s10584-016-1721-2. Click image to enlarge.
Panel a shows the change in seasonal ice cover duration (d/yr) from 1973 to 2013, and panel b shows the change in summer surface water temperature (°C/yr) from 1994 to 2013. Maps from Mason, L.A., Riseng, C.M., Gronewold, A.D. et al. Climatic Change (2016). doi:10.1007/s10584-016-1721-2.

When the data set drills down to a finer spatial level (definition: of or relating to a smaller area of physical space) there’s variation. We know from this analysis that when we consider each lake to be a homogeneous entity, we are masking important trends in water temperature and ice cover. Important data is lost. Data that would be helpful to local and regional policy makers in helping dealing with effects of climate change.

This research is useful for informing both mechanistic modeling of ecosystem responses and planning for long-term management of these large freshwater ecosystems, the research team says in their publication. In other words? Decision makers will have better tools available to help protect local fisheries, ecosystems, and economies.

Researchers also averaged their data set across sub-basins, which NOAA’s Kaye LaFond was kind of enough to map out for the release. You can see that below.

The panel on the left shows the change in seasonal ice cover duration (d/yr) from 1973 to 2013, and the panel on the right shows the change in summer surface water temperature (°C/yr) from 1994 to 2013. Maps created by Kaye LaFond for NOAA GLERL
The panel on the left shows the change in seasonal ice cover duration (d/yr) from 1973 to 2013, and the panel on the right shows the change in summer surface water temperature (°C/yr) from 1994 to 2013. Maps created by Kaye LaFond for NOAA GLERL

 

 

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