Study: Great Lakes hit hardest by climate change in U.S.

Climate Cast


Support for climate cast comes from Bank of America financing clean energy, initiatives and advancements in renewable energy and spurring innovation and the growth of environmentally focused companies markets and jobs. Bank of America NA member FDIC good morning. Twenty one percent. That's how much of the world's freshwater lies in the Great Lakes. Thirty four million people live in the Great Lakes basin. Now, a new study finds climate change in the Great Lakes is happening faster than the rest of the US study co author Lucinda Johnson is the associate director at the natural resources research institute at the university of Minnesota Duluth for the US as a whole to average temperatures have increased by one point two degrees Fahrenheit, whereas for the Great Lakes in the states bordering the Great Lakes that is one point four degrees Fahrenheit. And actually if you just look at the base in itself, the increase has been one point six degrees Fahrenheit over that. Period. Of the last century. So the Great Lakes is warming faster than the rest of the United States. It looks like it's also getting wetter. I saw this in the study US annual precipitation increased four percent between nineteen o one and twenty fifteen but the Great Lakes region saw about a ten percent increase with more of this precipitation coming as unusually large events what jumps out at you there in that piece of data. Well, the problem with large events is that they are just so destructive. They are distracted from the standpoint of our infrastructure and just the destruction to people's homes is is heartbreaking. But similarly, we see these large events responsible for moving a lot of the sediment and nutrients from the landscape into nearby water bodies, which has a very detrimental effect on what a quality. And we hear about algae blooms we know that lakes like Erie that are much shallower. Are more prone to those what about lake superior? I know it's a cold lake. We don't get a lot of algae blooms there. But as we wash these nutrients in and as the lake temperatures warm is that's something we might expect more of in the future. Well, one of the things that we are really quite concerned about is the fact that we have been observing algal blooms in lake superior. We've seen three blooms that happen to coincide with these very very large rain events. So just this past summer. There was a bloom around the little town of cornucopia. And although this wasn't the toxic algal bloom that we know of it is a huge concern to us to begin to see elbow. Blooms in water body, like lake superior, which is known to be very pristine. Now, we have a terse base to Konami where people in -ticipant that the water quality is going to be very clear and the thought that we might be. Experiencing algal blooms this very clear and pristine body of water is of huge concern to both the ecologists as well as to society as a whole big picture Lucinda as you look at this study, what changes on lake superior will you be monitoring closely and keeping an eye on in the next ten years or so the most important changes that we think are going to be the surface water temperatures and the number and intensity of these large storm events. So the combination of these warmer temperatures with increase nutrients coming in from the land have the potential to really change the ecosystem along the shoreline. And and we have a lot of concerns about that loosened Johnson associate director at the natural resources research institute at the university of Minnesota Duluth. Thanks for your insight today on climate cast. Well, thank you, Paul. And I. Really appreciate all of the great reporting that you joined climate change that's climate cast. I'm NPR chief meteorologist Paul Hefner.

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