Monday, November 8, 2021

Temperatures reach record levels in Great Lakes, a troubling trend fueled by climate change

Posted By on Mon, Nov 8, 2021 at 10:57 AM

click to enlarge Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula. - STEVE NEAVLING
  • Steve Neavling
  • Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula.

The Great Lakes are reaching record warm temperatures, which could generate more lake-effect snow, threaten fish habitats, and disrupt livelihoods that depend on the massive bodies of freshwater.

The temperatures of each of the five lakes are about five to six degrees above average, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Rising temperatures are the most dramatic in Lake Superior, the biggest and coldest of the Great Lakes. It reached nearly 60 degrees in early October, the warmest on record and about 6 degrees higher than its average of about 52 for this time of year.

In the other Great Lakes, temperatures were three to five degrees higher than average.

The warming water comes as human-caused climate change increases air temperatures.

The Great Lakes hold about 20% of the planet’s surface freshwater, provide water to more than 30 million people, and affect weather in Michigan and other states.

In a recent study reported by The Washington Post, scientists analyzed 60 lakes in the Northern Hemisphere and discovered water temperatures have steadily increased over the past 100 to 200 years. In the past 25 years, water temperatures increased more than any other quarter in the past century. As a result, the lakes are losing ice cover, and water levels are shrinking.

Lake Superior experienced the most rapid warming and lost nearly two months of ice cover per century.

“If we continue emitting greenhouse gases at this rate, Lake Superior will not freeze after the 2060s,” said Sapna Sharma, an associate professor at York University. “Lake Michigan will not freeze after the 2060s.”

By the end of the century, the planet is expected to heat up by 4.9 degrees. If the trend continues, Sharma estimates that about 5,700 lakes could permanently lose ice cover by 2100.

Warmer lakes could also mean more snow. Last week, northern Michigan received record-breaking lake effect snow for November. Gaylord, for example, received nearly a foot of snow.

Stay connected with Detroit Metro Times. Subscribe to our newsletters, and follow us on Google News, Apple News, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Reddit.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 19, 2022

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2022 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation