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Variations in Great Lakes water levels impact numerous sectors, including hydropower, navigation, recreation, aquatic ecosystems, and shoreline residents. This project was able to integrate and compare data from existing observational sites in Lakes Superior and Huron to assess the impacts of climate variability and change on evaporation rates. Periods of high and low evaporation can significantly affect the timing and duration of ice cover. Years with high ice cover were usually followed by cooler summer water temperatures and lower evaporation rates, but these same high-ice winters were preceded by high evaporation rates during the autumn and early winter. This indicates that connection between ice cover and evaporation is a two-way street. While ice cover reduces evaporation from what would otherwise be exposed lake surface water, evaporation is also a very effective means of reducing lake temperature to generate ice cover.
Contact(s): John Lenters, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, John Anderton, Northern Michigan University, Peter Blanken, University of Colorado-Boulder, Christopher Spence, Environment Canada, Andrew Suyker, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
John Lenters described this project at the 2011 GLISA Symposium. View the video below.