Climate change hits mightiest of the Great Lakes

Declining ice cover, warming waters hit Lake Superior

07-13-2011 // WBEZ Radio

This excerpt is from a story which aired on WBEZ. Click here to listen to the full story.

Lake Superior

Climate change isn’t just hitting polar bears and melting glaciers. Scientists and advocates say it’s affecting the Great Lakes too, even Lake Superior, the lake that’s so big, all the other Great Lakes could fit inside with room to spare. Climate change already is playing out in warmer temperatures and melting ice, and scientists expect more dramatic changes. That could alter the way of life, even on the greatest of the Great Lakes.

In Lake Superior, there’s a thin stretch of green surrounded by water called Madeline Island. For most of the year, you can only get here by kayak or ferry. But when the weather gets cold enough, you can drive on frozen Lake Superior.

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While those near Lake Superior are already dealing with climate change, it’s heading to the rest of the Great Lakes too. Environmental advocates like Andy Buchsbaum, who heads the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes office, say it’s too late to stop it. But he says people can prevent it from getting worse by curbing fossil fuel emissions.

"Once you begin talking about changing basic temperature, air temperature, water temperature, weather patterns, once that happens, you can’t reverse that quickly, it takes a long time," Buchsbaum says. "We’re now in the position where we're trying to adapt."

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