7/26/10

Lake Superior, a Huge Natural Climate Change Gauge, Is Running a Fever

From the New York Times:
The Great Lakes are feeling the heat from climate change.

As the world's largest freshwater system warms, it is poised to systematically alter life for local wildlife and the tribes that depend on it, according to regional experts. And the warming could also provide a glimpse of what is happening on a more global level, they say.

"The Great Lakes in a lot of ways have always been a canary in the coal mine," Cameron Davis, the senior adviser to the U.S. EPA on the Great Lakes, said last week. "Not just for the region or this country, but for the rest of the world."

And it seems the canary's song is growing ever more halting.

Lake Superior, which is the largest, deepest and coldest of the five lakes, is serving as the "canary for the canary," Davis said at a public meeting of the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force last week, pointing to recent data trends.

Total ice cover on the lake has shrunk by about 20 percent over the past 37 years, he said. Though the change has made for longer, warmer summers, it's a problem because ice is crucial for keeping water from evaporating and it regulates the natural cycles of the Great Lakes. Read more.

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