Sunday, October 14, 2012

Lower water levels in the Great Lakes could hurt region, industry

Anthony Raap in via the Medill News Service:   Climate change is expected to drop water levels in the Great Lakes, affecting industry and the region. Levels could drop anywhere from a few inches to several feet as water evaporates in the drought conditions, experts said Wednesday.

Extreme weather will become more commonplace. Heat waves will be more severe. Drought will be more frequent, said Don Wuebbles, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Illinois. Those are local impacts of climate change that are already occurring, Wuebbles said,

Even the 46 percent increase in extreme rainfall in the last 50 years won't overcome diminishing Great Lakes levels, said Wuebbles, who is co-authoring the long-awaited 2013 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In short, the climate is changing, and the only logical explanation for this change is human activity, said Wuebbles, who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with the IPCC and Al Gore for their work on climate change.

"We're going to have to learn to adapt to climate change," Wuebbles said during the panel discussion "Great Lakes Water Scarcity and Regional Economic Development" at Northwestern University's Chicago campus. Panelists agreed that the Great Lakes region would be hard hit if more isn't done about climate change. This year, the region and most of the country has experienced record heat, which has led to evaporation.

In Chicago, millions of people rely on Lake Michigan water. And suburbs strapped with declining well water supplies may be hard-pressed to link to declining lake supplies. Panelists emphasized that the effects of climate change stretch well beyond the Midwest. The Great Lakes hold roughly 20 percent of the world's freshwater supply....

Foster Beach, Chicago, shot by Alanscottwalker, Wikimedia Commons,  under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license

No comments: