Report: Great Lakes Feeling Effects of Rapid Climate Warming

0806E02A-BE2A-4116-BFCF-470A0B14D5B0In this March 12, 2019 satellite photo provided by NOAA, shows the Great Lakes in various degrees of snow and ice. A scientific report says the Great Lakes region is warming faster than the rest of the U.S., which likely will bring more flooding and other extreme weather events such as heat waves and drought. NOAA via AP

 

The Great Lakes region is warming faster than the rest of the United States, a trend likely to bring more extreme storms while also degrading water quality, worsening erosion and posing tougher challenges for farming, scientists reported Thursday.

The annual mean air temperature in the region, which includes portions of the U.S. Midwest, Northeast and southern Canada, rose 1.6 degrees (0.9 Celsius) from 1901-60 and 1985-2016, according to the report commissioned by the Chicago-based Environmental Law & Policy Center. During the same periods, the mean temperature for the remainder of the contiguous U.S. rose 1.2 degrees (0.7 Celsius).

Warming is expected to continue this century, with rates depending on the volume of heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide and methane that humans pump into the atmosphere. As the air warms, it will hold more moisture, which likely will mean heavier winter snowstorms and spring rains — with more flooding in vulnerable areas. Yet summers will be hotter and drier.

“Climate change is already affecting the climate of the Great Lakes region and the physical behavior of the Great Lakes themselves,” said Don Weubbles, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Illinois and former assistant director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Obama administration.

The five Great Lakes hold about one-fifth of the world’s surface fresh water and are so large that they influence regional weather. They keep nearby lands cooler in summer and warmer in winter than those farther inland, while their humidity fuels lake-effect snowfall and summer rains. In addition to providing drinking water for millions of people, they are the backbone of an economy built on manufacturing, agriculture and tourism.

A warming climate will add to stresses the lakes have suffered from industrial pollution and development, particularly overflows from urban sewer systems that carry harmful bacteria, said the report produced by 18 scientists, most from Midwestern universities as well as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

While annual U.S. precipitation increased 4 percent between 1901 and 2015, it jumped nearly 10 percent in the Great Lakes region, with much of the increase due to unusually large storms, the report said. Future precipitation is likely to happen less evenly, decreasing 5 to 15 percent in the summer by 2100.

Heat waves should become more common, posing risks for the elderly and children with asthma. By the end of the century, the region should have up to 40 additional days with temperatures exceeding 90 degrees (32.2 Celsius).

Winter snowfall should decrease in most places, although locales accustomed to lake effect squalls can expect them to dump even more snow — particularly along the Lake Ontario snowbelt in New York.

The study did not include a cost-benefit analysis of a warming climate’s likely results. Several of the scientists said in a phone news conference there may be some bright spots but that the economic impact would be mostly negative.

The region could have longer growing seasons, said Brad Cardinale of the University of Michigan’s Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research. But the report suggests that benefit could be offset by wetter springs that make it harder to plant crops, plus increasing drought and heat in summer. Corn and soybean yields are expected to drop 10 to 30 percent by the century’s end.

Drinking water quality will be degraded by more releases of untreated sewage during heavy storms and runoff of nutrients that feed harmful algae blooms, some toxic. While such blooms are common on Lake Erie and portions of Lakes Huron and Michigan, they’ve also begun showing up in deep, frigid Lake Superior — an unprecedented development, said Lucinda Johnson of the University of Minnesota at Duluth.

Beaches, dunes and shorelines will experience more erosion from heavier rainfall, the report predicted.

It’s uncertain how climate change will affect water levels in the Great Lakes, which already fluctuate periodically, the scientists said. Warmer temperatures will produce less ice cover, boosting evaporation and pushing levels down. But they could rise in years with especially heavy precipitation and temporary deep freezes caused by southward migration of frigid polar air.

Although the Trump administration has reversed federal policies intended to prevent climate change, states and local governments can take measures such as increasing energy efficiency, stepping up use of renewable sources and preventing runoff of nutrient-rich manure from large livestock farms, said Howard Learner, president of the Environmental Law & Policy Center.

“We cannot wait for the Trump administration to accept sound science,” Learner said. “We need to step up and act.”

 

Share or comment on this article:

Advertisements

Iowa Mom of Baby Found Dead in Maggot-Infested Diaper Sentenced to Life in Prison

NEW HAMPTON, Iowa — A northeast Iowa mother found guilty of her baby son’s murder will spend the rest of her life in prison.

Online court records show 21-year-old Cheyanne Harris was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole. She was found guilty of her four-month-old son Sterling Koehn’s murder earlier this month.

The baby was found dead in a child swing in August of 2017 in his parents’ apartment in Alta Vista. Investigators say he had been wearing the same maggot-infested diaper for at least nine days and weighed under seven pounds at the time of his death.

The baby’s father, Zachary Koehn, was found guilty of first-degree murder and child endangerment resulting in death back in November. He was also sentenced to life in prison.

Share or comment on this article:

Police: Mesa man accused of bestiality involving a cat

WARNING: Graphic content

MESA, Ariz. (FOX 10) — A man is accused of having sexual contact with his pet cat and injuring the animal — and according to court documents, this may not have been the first time he allegedly had sex with the feline.

On March 20, police received a call regarding a man who had taken his cat into an apartment unit’s bathroom and called out for help, saying the cat was stuck on his penis.

According to the police report, an officer at the scene near University Drive and Lindsay Road said the defendant refused to open the door to the apartment. When the officer gained entry, he “observed the defendant naked, standing in the middle of the bathroom with a cat partially wrapped in a towel placed by his genitals.”

Police stated the defendant, identified as 40-year-old Michael Navage, immediately began saying “he was only drying his cat off.”

According to the officer at the scene, “During my investigation, one of the witnesses told me he heard what he thought was a cat in distress. He heard the defendant in the bathroom yelling at the cat and calling that cat a whore.. and telling it to stop [expletive].

Navage denied having intercourse with the cat, saying it was impossible for him to do so.

During an exam, a veterinarian noticed superficial wounds to the cat’s anal area. X-rays indicated the feline had suffered previous rib and pelvic injuries, which are consistent with a larger object being inserted into the orifice.

Navage told the investigating officer that he has had the cat since it was a kitten and he loves his cat.

Methamphetamine was also found in the apartment, along with bags containing IDs, credit cards and a checkbook which had other names on them besides Navage’s. Police say Navage was also in possession of a $100 bill that appeared to be fake.

Navage was taken into custody and during an interview, he admitted to buying an ounce of methamphetamine that was found in the apartment, finding the identifications, checks, credit cards and not attempting to return them to the owner.

Police say there is probable cause to charge Navage with dangerous drug-possession for sale, dangerous drug-possession use, forgery, drug paraphernalia possession/use, bestiality and animal cruelty.

Navage was released from jail and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 1.

Bretta Nelson of the Arizona Humane Society says the five-month-old male cat is under the care of AHS’ trauma hospital.

 

Share or comment on this article: