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Posts tagged Lake Ontario

Climate Change’s Potential Effects on Lake Ontario, USA and Canada

43.6N 78.1W

May 3rd, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Lakes

USA and Canada – May 2nd, 2013

Climate change threatens Lake Ontario (center) in a variety of ways, including a change in the distribution of fish species, the spread of invasive species, an increase in Summer stratification, loss of Winter ice and the release of nutrients and contaminants.

Stratification of lakes occurs when a warm surface layer of water develops over cooler, deeper water. A warming climate increases the duration of summer stratification in the deep lakes. This, in turn, makes frequent and larger “dead zones”—areas of water depleted of oxygen and unable to support life—more likely to occur, a risk especially for Lakes Erie and Ontario. Persistent dead zones can result in toxic algal blooms; foul-smelling, musty-tasting drinking water; damage to fisheries; and massive fish kills—known as “summerkill”.

Declines in the duration of winter ice on lakes are expected to continue. The loss of winter ice may be a mixed blessing for fish, reducing winterkill from oxygen deficits in shallow lakes but also jeopardizing reproduction of whitefish in the Great Lakes bays, where ice cover protects the eggs from winter storm disturbance.

Lower oxygen and warmer temperatures promote greater microbial decomposition and subsequent release of nutrients and contaminants from bottom sediments. Phosphorus release would be enhanced, and mercury release and uptake by biota would also likely increase—exposing humans to higher mercury levels via fish consumption (click here for more information).

Climate Change’s Potential Effects on Lake Ontario and Saint Lawrence River, Canada and USA

43.6N 78.1W

April 7th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Lakes, Rivers

USA and Canada – April 6th, 2013

Snow dusts the landscape of part of the northeastern USA and Canada, framing the shores of the Saint Lawrence River. The river traverses the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario and forms part of the international boundary between Ontario and New York in the United States. It is the primary drainage conveyor of the Great Lakes Basin, and in this image can be seen connected to Lake Ontario.

In the opinion of some experts, a temperature increase of 2 to 4°C could lower the average flow from Lake Ontario by 24%. Lake Ontario is the major source for the St. Lawrence River, and a decrease in flow of this magnitude could result in a 1-metre drop in water levels in some areas of the St. Lawrence.

The Great Lakes, USA and Canada: Increased Temperatures and Less Winter Ice Cover – March 5th, 2013

43.6N 78.1W

March 5th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Image of the day, Lakes

USA – March 4th, 2013

Ice can be seen along the southern shores of Lake Ontario (below), while the rest of the lake appears greenish from sediments and algae. In the full image, the other Great Lakes can also be seen. According to scientists, the Great Lakes basin is beginning to feel the impacts of climate change, which is resulting in less winter ice cover, as well as lower water levels, more extreme storms, and warmer air and water temperatures.

Although the changes in climate vary as one moves from location to location around the Great Lakes, due to the large size of the basin, there have been noted increases in temperature: around two degrees Celsius in some areas and a little less in other areas. Warmer water temperatures, plus warmer air temperatures means that there is shortening of the ice cover season. The ice cover, in other words, the freezing of the lakes, is necessary to try to control the evaporation from them. A shorter ice cover season can mean larger evaporation (click here for more information).

Sediments in the Great Lakes of North America

41.8N 87.6W

November 17th, 2012 Category: Lakes

USA – November 16th, 2012

Sediments and phytoplankton create swirled patterns in three of the five Great Lakes of North America. Lake Michigan (left), shows bright blue paisley patterns in the southern half, particularly near the city of Chicago, USA. Lake Huron (center), also shows sediments and phytoplankton along its southern shores. Lake Erie (lower right quadrant), shows sediments of a more green and gold hue, and distributed throughout most of its waters. Lakes Superior (upper left quadrant) and Ontario (right edge), however, appear mostly clear.

Sediments in Lake Erie as Spring Begins, North America – April 8th, 2012

42.0N 81.3W

April 8th, 2012 Category: Lakes

USA and Canada - April 6th, 2012

Lake Erie Close-up

Although most of the Great Lakes of North America (from left to right, Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario) appear mostly sediment free, Lake Erie shows multi-colored swirls of sediment as spring begins after a nearly iceless winter. The smaller Lake St. Clair can be observed between Lakes Erie and Huron, also filled with multicolored sediments.

This winter showed warmer than normal temperatures in the Great Lakes Region. Reports indicate that temperatures around all five of the Great Lakes averaged around 5 ° F higher than normal since November 2011. Only 5% of the lakes were covered by ice in mid-February, and Lake Eries water temperatures in late March were reported at 39 °F, equal to the warmest water temperature ever measured there at this time of year.