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Climate Change Has Reached the Very Bottom of Lake Michigan, New Study Says

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Lake Michigan. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News) When it comes to what scientists know about the effects of climate change on the Great Lakes, research to date has only scratched the surface.

“There have been studies all over the world looking at surface temperatures (of lakes) and, at least in summer, we see a warming trend,” said Craig Stow, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.

But for big lakes, hundreds of feet deep, what’s happening on the surface doesn’t have as much relevance as it does for shallower bodies of water, Stow said.

“If it’s only the surface that’s warming, that isn’t necessarily a very profound effect” on big lakes, he said.

To interpret climate impacts on the planet’s largest lakes — the top 10 of which hold 84% of earth’s non-frozen surface freshwater — the missing piece has been information about subsurface temperatures.

Now we have a glimpse into the murky depths.A string of high-tech thermometers placed in southern Lake Michigan — the world’s fourth-largest lake — has, for 30 years, taken hourly temperature measurements, as far down as 150 meters, well below the 10-20 meters of what’s considered the lake’s surface.Stow was among a […]

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