Posted by: Vicki Burns | March 26, 2012

Global Warming and Its Impacts on Canadian Lakes

Here is an interesting article that came to my attention today about the lack of ice cover on the Great Lakes. Its talking about a report done by Dr. Jia Wang, an Ice Climatologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They gathered data from 1979 to 2010 and have come up with the astonishing conclusion that the amount of ice cover on the Great Lakes has decreased by 71 % in that time period. According to this report, only about 5 % of the Great Lakes were covered by ice this winter as compared to 94% back in 1979.

Satellite image of Great Lakes courtesy of EarthSky

The lack of ice cover has some big implications for the lakes, including greater shoreline erosion in some cases, to earlier blooms of toxic blue-green algae. The lack of ice cover will contribute to warming of the waters which may please us human swimmers but will also have consequences for the aquatic ecosystems.

I’m currently seeking data on Lake Winnipeg’s ice cover to see how it compares to statistics in this report. In a blog a few months ago, I referred to data about the increased number of ice-free days on Lake of the Woods. In that report I was amazed to see that there was actually a whole month longer, on average, of ice free days with the lake freezing up two weeks later in the fall and thawing two weeks earlier in the spring.

Some of the effects of global warming are hard to dislike, such as the warmer weather we’ve been enjoying in Winnipeg these days. But, overall I think there are many good reasons for us to be paying more attention to this issue, because the negative impacts of global warming are becoming much more apparent.

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Responses

  1. This is no surprise. You are looking at half a cycle. You are using only satellite data from 1979. The warming and cooling cycles last about 70 years. The years around 1979 were a cold peak which included Arctic ice as well. So go back to the 1930’s to 1950’s and check the ice cover and polar bears. It has little to do with global warming, but more with up and down cycles.

  2. If you compare last year to this year when we’re back up to 90 something precent ice cover we should prepare for the coming ice age that should hit sometime this summer.


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