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Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region


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David Kinnear discusses the impact climate change would have on the Great Lakes Region of North America, which supplies a substantial amount of fresh water and other resources for animals and people.

Published in: Environment
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Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region

  2. 2. Global climate change is already taking visible tolls on our environment. From melting ice caps to superstorms, its severe implications for our environment are changing our everyday world.
  3. 3. In the Great Lakes region, climate change will have profound short and long-term effects not only on the environment but also the economy. As we gauge how the Great Lakes climate will change, we also have to account for how it will impact local society...
  4. 4. Earlier studies predicted that climate change could largely benefit or only marginally impact the Great Lakes region over the next 100 years. However, more recent data suggests a bleaker outcome in many environmental areas. Environmental Impacts
  5. 5. A U.S. Global Change Research Program Report finds that climate change may have a positive short term impact on agriculture. Growing seasons will be longer with increased yields for soybean and corn crops.  Agriculture
  6. 6. Warmer temperatures also mean we’ll need to contend with new pests and diseases. Crop losses are predicted to increase as a longer growing season increases the opportunity for damage. 
  7. 7. In the southern region, warmer temperatures may compromise livestock health and drier climates may limit the productivity of pastures.
  8. 8. It’s predicted that the forest composition will change due to warming. The warmer temperatures will help some trees like Oak and Hickory grow. However, Maples, Beech, Birch, Spruce and Fir trees will decline. Forests
  9. 9. In the short term, increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations are likely to create forest growth. In the long-term, it’s expected that increased ground-level ozone concentrations will likely damage forest trees, potentially offsetting the positive effect of CO2.
  10. 10. Atmospheric Nitrogen deposits may promote growth in forests, but the long-term consequences mean increased nitrate pollution of waterways, groundwater, and drinking water.
  11. 11. Lakes, streams, and wetlands will go through massive adjustments as climate change increases. Drier, warmer seasons are expected to decrease winter ice and reduce lake levels while aquatic ecosystems may experience a number of altered situations. Water
  12. 12. Heavier rainfalls will increase erosion and reduce water quality from soiled runoff, affect transportation and degrade infrastructure.
  13. 13. In lakes, summer stratification and oxygen depletion will increase, resulting in deep-water “dead zones” which will impact fish populations and other organisms.
  14. 14. River flooding may become common. Land management practices, more rainstorms and urbanization may impair flood- absorbing surfaces of wetlands and floodplains. This results in more water pollution, pesticides, and acid rain.
  15. 15. Refuge for aquatic organisms may decrease. Different types of land use and fragmented environments due to shrinking streams and waterways may limit dispersal of amphibians and mollusks.
  16. 16. Although fish populations may grow faster in warmer waters, they may demand more food web resources. In addition, lower water levels with warmer temperatures can increase contaminants like mercury in the food chain.
  17. 17. Trout, Whitefish, and other cool-water fish species will decline, especially in the southern parts of the Great Lakes. Warm-water species like smallmouth bass are expected to expand their populations northward.
  18. 18. Groundwater will diminish because of low summer water levels. Streams will dry up and wetland areas will decrease, reducing wildlife habitats.
  19. 19. The Great Lakes region contains 84% of North America’s fresh surface water and provides drinking water to 40 million people, including U.S. and Canadian citizens. If warmer weather continues as predicted, droughts could occur causing a shortage of fresh water for households and businesses. Economic, Social, and Health Impacts
  20. 20. Since lake levels are expected to drop, costs associated with shipping, dredging harbors and channels, water intake pipes, and other infrastructure across the Great Lakes are likely to increase. 
  21. 21. Warmer seasons could lower heating costs in winter, but higher costs for summer air conditioning may negate the savings.  
  22. 22. Recreational fishing, hunting, and wildlife may be influenced by changing species distribution across the region.
  23. 23. Health risks spurred by extreme heat may become more abundant. Air pollutants and ozone deficiencies are likely to exacerbate asthma and other respiratory diseases.
  24. 24. The predicted effects of climate change on the Great Lakes may be stressful, but policymakers and citizens can take action now to help reduce its impact.  Taking Action
  25. 25. Limiting greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution while taking steps to reshape public health management and building codes, and shifts in fishery management can help locals prepare for extreme weather and environmental changes.
  26. 26. For more information, please visit: thank you for viewing!