Warmer water, windier weather - Macleans.ca

Warmer water, windier weather

As Lake Superior warms, winds pick up too


Rising water temperatures on Lake Superior are leading to stronger winds, which will impact everything from currents to pollution on the world’s largest lake, according to researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Since 1985, surface water temperatures (as measured by lake buoys) have gone up 1.2 degrees per decade, about 15 per cent faster than the air above the lake and twice as fast as temperatures rising over nearby land. Part of this is due to melting ice: “There is less ice on Lake Superior during the winter, and consequently the water absorbs more heat,” says atmospheric and oceanic sciences professor Ankur Desai. In the study, researchers spent over 20 years following Superior’s water and wind system. They witnessed currents increasing nearly 10 per cent per decade, largely based on changes in the wind. Lake Superior is an anchor for the Great Lakes, which hold one-fifth of the world’s fresh surface water, but the impact of these rising temperatures is still not well understood.


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Warmer water, windier weather

  1. Gosh, could it be evidence of global warming? Where are all the rightwing Conservative denialists who argue falsely that we have global cooling now?

    • It could be evidence of global warming. It could also be a regional climate change as well. We've had those in history as well, such as the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period, which was largely confined to the North Atlantic.

      • But since the evidence is that we are dumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and the scientists have said that this will cause global warming, and global warming is occurring even faster than predicted, then it is likely that Lake Superior is warming up, like the Arctic and the rest of the world, due to global warming. Here in Calgary it is 12 degrees C on Nov 16, and that is also not normal.

        • We also had frost in NB in late August, that's not normal either. Global warming peaked in 1998, and has cooled since, flying in the face of all predictions.

  2. Lake Superior's trend is likely more a regional thing, especially since it's over such a small area. However the data is unsettling nonetheless, whatever the cause. 1.2 degrees per decade is an amazing rise in temperature and very odd given that it's the water that's changing so fast – water usually lags behind air and earth in changing temperature regimes.

    This may not be evidence of global warming, but it could certainly be a good case study for the mechanisms of how the earth can warm (especially with the similarities to a melting northren ice cap).