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Climate Change and Less Ice Cover on Great Lakes, USA and Canada

44.7N 87W

April 3rd, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Lakes

USA – April 2nd, 2013

As the northern hemisphere spring begins, sediments can be seen in Lake Erie (bottom right) and along the southern shores of Lake Michiagan (left). Some ice can be seen in Green Bay (upper left), an arm of Lake Michigan located along the south coast of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the east coast of Wisconsin, and in North Channel (top), the body of water along the north shore of Lake Huron, in the Canadian province of Ontario. It stretches approximately 160 nautical miles and is bordered on the east by Georgian Bay (upper right).

Analysts say less ice cover is leading to erosion of Great Lakes shoreline. Whether you believe in global warming or not, changes are happening in the Great Lakes at all times of the year. The Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation says climate change is behind a lack of ice cover on Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, and that this is part of a long-term trend that first became noticeable in the early 1970s. Researchers say we’re seeing 71 per cent less ice in the Lakes than we did in 1973.

The lack of ice permits heavy wave action that contributes to beach and other shoreline erosion, since the heaviest wave action on the Lakes takes place during the winter months. The reduced ice cover allows the water to absorb sunlight instead of reflecting it back to the atmosphere. The absorption prevents ice from forming as the water becomes warmer (click here for more information).

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