Why It's a Big Deal That Half of the Great Lakes Are Still Covered in Ice
Geege Schuman stashed this in Climate
Though Kompoltowicz says the usual March and April rise in water levels is occurring later than usual this year, already the lakes are seeing water levels that they haven't had for several years. This past March marked the first time since April of 1998 that Lake Superior had reached its long-term average. And over the next few months, melting snow will feed the lakes and colder water could lower the rates of summer and fall evaporation. The amount of rain could either add to or subtract from this total. The Army Corps of Engineers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration generally forecast water levels six months out, and predicted levels for this September, Kompoltowicz says, range from 10 to 13 inches higher than lake levels were a year ago.
Here's what higher lake levels could mean:
- Shippers may be hurting now, but higher lake levels will allow them to load more cargo per boat later this year, according to the Chicago Tribune. These higher water lines also mean that those who manage the Great Lakes' harbors won't have to invest huge sums of money in dredging out the bottom. Ships will carry more, at less of a cost, once the ice melts.
- Fluctuations in water levels could also help maintain the diversity of plant and animal species along many coastal wetlands, according to Kurt Kowalski, a wetland ecologist at the U.S. Geological Survey's Great Lakes Science Center. Too many years of consistently low water allows certain species, often non-native plants, to take over.
- And even far less large-scale ripple effects will matter. Scott Stevenson, the executive vice president of the company that manages Chicago's harbors, told the Tribune that higher water levels will allow them to rent out 100 expensive slips along the lakefront that shallow water took out of commission last year.
Holy smokes. This seems unusual and it seems unusually bad.
Why is no one panicking about this???
I AM PANICKED!!
Okay. Now what do we do?