Ice and snow help slow evaporation of water on Great Lakes. Ice slows commercial traffic but it also means waters levels will be up.
“A brutally cold winter has covered the Great Lakes with more ice than they have seen since 1979. Special correspondent Elizabeth Bracket of WTTW reports on the struggle to keep shipping lanes open to Chicago’s ice-clogged harbor to Lake Michigan.”
Adaptive Management task force have come to conclusions on how to manage the Great Lakes as a resource in lieu of atmospheric changes we are experiencing today and their effects on us. ‘Instead of fighting nature, we need to figure out better ways to comfortably live alongside its changes.’ As lake levels will change our ability to adapt to these changes is a topic of debate – we can adapt to changes or struggle to maintain the status quo through engineering. The following is an excerpt from SODUS on the upcoming webinar focus on these changes in the Great Lakes:
The bi-national Adaptive Management Plan responds to changing climate and the limited ability to alter lake levels through regulation of flows from Lake Superior and Lake Ontario. “Our climate is changing and increases in temperature and alterations in patterns of precipitation are likely to affect water levels in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River,” says U.S. co-chair of the Adaptive Management Task Team, Debbie Lee. “There is strong evidence that in the future we will experience extreme water levels – both high and low – that are outside the historical range seen over the past century. Indeed, we have seen record low water levels this past January on Lakes Michigan and Huron.”
The most recent IJC studies on lake levels – the International Upper Great Lakes Study and the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Study – both concluded that adaptive management is the best way to address the uncertainties associated with climate change and the potential impacts from extreme water levels. Adaptive management uses the information obtained from long-term monitoring and modelling to support the evaluation of plans, policies and practices and adjust them as knowledge improves or as conditions change. “The proposed Adaptive Management Plan is based on working collaboratively with Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River partners to gather and share critical information over time, assess the information with state-of-the art tools, develop adaptation strategies, measure our collective success in managing the impacts of extreme water levels and adapt accordingly”, explains Canadian co-chair, Wendy Leger. “We believe it is a cost-efficient and effective way to support decision-making aimed at reducing the risk to communities, the economy and the environment from extreme water levels.”
The Adaptive Management Task Team is seeking input from the public on the draft Adaptive Management Plan between March 15 and April 15, 2013. Following public comment, the Task Team will revise the Plan and forward it to the IJC for its consideration.