Great Lakes Water Levels are falling due to Climate Change

Pro: Great Lakes Water Levels Are Falling

It’s no secret that, partially due to climate change, the water levels in the Great Lakes are getting very low. It’s becoming such a problem that six U.S. Senators from Great Lakes states are upset with President Obama for overlooking the Lakes in his Climate Action Plan. Here are a few excerpts of the letter to the President from Senators Levin, Durbin, Franken, Brown, Schumer, and Stabenow.

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Rising temperatures, extreme weather, damaged ecosystems and rising sea levels are affecting all parts of the world, and the Great Lakes are no exception. Home to 84 percent of North America’s surface fresh water and 21 percent of the world’s fresh water, the lakes are becoming ever more threatened as the Earth’s temperatures continue to rise.

Lake Erie has been particularly prone to the impacts of rising carbon dioxide concentrations and warming lake temperatures. Tourism, recreation, fish and wildlife, and shipping are all being impacted by the changing climate, and the situation is expected to only worsen in the decades to come.

According to a Great Lakes Integrated Sciences Assessment by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, future land use and climate change could drastically exacerbate algal blooms on the lakes, killing fish and wildlife, threatening human health and diminishing water quality.

The study notes that the average air temperature in the Great Lakes region has risen by 2 degrees since 1900. In recent years,  the Great Lakes’ waters have warmed faster than the surrounding air temperature, with Lake Superior warming twice as fast as the air since 1980.


Con: The Great Lakes are Doing Fine

The Great Lakes are currently benefiting from record-high water levels just a few years after alarmists claimed global warming causes low water levels. In fact, water levels have been above normal since 2014.

Alarmists will likely now try to claim global warming causes high water levels, but they have already claimed global warming causes low water levels. Sound science does not allow activists to flip what they assert is “settled science.” 

Any attempts to claim global warming causes water-level volatility are also contradicted by scientific evidence. Water levels were more volatile than today, for example, during the late 1920s and the 1960s.

Alarmists and their media allies claimed during a recent, short-term decline in Great Lakes water levels that climate change was bringing a new normal of low Great Lakes water levels. For example, Think Progress in 2013 claimed, “Several different climate models for the Great Lakes region all predict that lake levels will decline over the next century.” Since then, as shown in Figure 1, below, Great Lakes water levels have reached their highest ever recorded, and have sustained abundant, above-average water levels since 2014. As often happens, alarmists claimed a climate crisis had arrived, only to be proven wrong yet again.

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