Monday, December 13, 2010

Lake Michigan Down By Over 5 Trillion Gallons This Year

Okay. I'll admit it.

It's frickin' cold today. Got the fireplace cranked, filled a second bin with wood just so I wouldn't have to trudge through the crunchy ice to the garage to get a new load of wood at 4AM.


Because that would be COLD.

On the bright side COLD is good.

Because COLD freezes the water. And COLD FROZEN water ices over the lakes and holds the water down over the winter. And that's good. It's a good thing. Especially since Lake Michigan water levels are 18 inches below the long term average, and that is very very bad.

The water levels of the Great Lakes have been dropping. Lake Michigan has seen the biggest drop, down 4 inches in the past month and 14 inches in the past year. Since each inch of water on Lake Michigan represents 390 billion gallons of water, that means a loss of 5.46 TRILLION (sounds like a stimulus package or a Wall St. bailout, or how many years until the Lions win a Super Bowl) gallons of water!

Get that?

Lake Michgian is down 14 inches in the past year, equaling 5.46 TRILLION gallons.

There are several factors involved in Lake Michigan's dropping water levels. One of them is global warming. But by no means is it the only factor.

It bears repeating that the Great Lakes are above sea level, and won't see rising water levels like the oceans. Instead, the Great Lakes are predicted to drop. Part of that drop is from warmer winters when the waters aren't iced over and they evaporate more over the winter months. Some of that leads to increased precipitation and lake effect snow while the rest just sort of floats away out of the water shed never to return. It usually takes a drop of water 200 years to leave the upper Great Lakes...and we're seeing an escalation of that.

A recent NASA study found that the world's fresh water lakes are heating up...

NASA used satellite data to measure the surface temperatures of 167 lakes worldwide and found an average warming rate of .81 degrees Fahrenheit per decade and in some lakes, as much as 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit per decade, NASA said Tuesday.

It makes for pleasant waters for a bit, but warmer waters in Lake Michigan this year contributed to a lot more turbulent waters and a significant increase in rip currents which took a record number of lives in 2010, taking 63 lives. A 50% increase from the usual 40. It also makes fishing a bit more scarce in the usual spots as fishermen need to go further out to find the cold water fish.

It wrecks sever problems on the lakes ecosystems, and alters a way of life for many along the upper Great Lakes.

More than Global Warming, is dredging in the Lake St. Claire area bewteen Lake Huron and Lake Erie. It's like a gigantic drain letting the water flow faster from the upper Great Lakes (Superior, Huron, Michigan) into Lake Erie.

This recent freeze is going to be excellent for one part of the equation, at least for the time being...excellent for keeping waters from evaporating. But we still need to plug that hole in Lake St. Claire pronto.

In the mean time, I'm going to keep this fireplace stoked. It's the first place my six year old goes in the morning. He gets up and sits in front of the fire place with his blanket wrapped around himself.

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