Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Great lakes rapidly losing ice

The U.S. Great lakes are experiencing massive loss of winter ice cover. The recent study by American Meteorological Society says that the average amount of ice covering the Great Lakes has decreased 71 percent since 1973.

The scientists believe that this tremendous loss of ice cover is the result of cyclical climate patterns like El Niño and La Niña, changes in the Arctic Oscillation and broader climate change phenomenon.

The worst loss of ice cover occurred in lake Ontario that dropped by 88% while the largest of U.S. lakes - the lake Superior experienced an ice loss cover of 79%.

The scientists have calculated that only about 5 percent of the Great Lakes surface froze over this winter, which is the minimum amount since satellite photos were first taken from space.

Jia Wang, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration lab, warned that the rapid decline in ice cover will lead to faster wintertime evaporation, resulting in reduced water levels. This could also lead to increased and earlier algae blooms, which could lead to water pollution, and may accelerate erosion by exposing more shoreline to waves.

The current winter of 2011-12 wasn't included in the report but its mild temperatures will only serve to speed up the decline.

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