Climate Change

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Climate change is the most daunting collective challenge that humanity has ever faced. Global leaders gathering at the 2016 World Economic Forum rated climate change’s impacts -- food and water crises, failure of climate-change adaptation, and extreme weather events -- as the greatest risks facing society and industry in the next 10 years.

Great Lakes from Space

The average annual evaporation of the Great Lakes has increased by 25 percent to 30 inches.

The people and waters of the Great Lakes Basin are already dealing with the impacts of climate change right now. In the Grand Traverse region, where FLOW is based, farmers are increasingly impacted by irregular weather events, like late frosts and severe storms, that damage crop production and threaten their livelihoods.

The waters of the Great Lakes are warming. Lake Superior is one of the fastest warming lakes on Earth, with a forecasted rise of 10 degrees Fahrenheit in the next 50 years. Warming waters, when combined with agricultural and industrial runoff, alter ecosystems and increase the prevalence of harmful algal blooms (hyperlink), which can result in dead zones and unsafe drinking water.

Warming waters also lower Great Lakes water levels by increasing evaporation. In the last decade, the average annual evaporation has increased by 25 percent to 30 inches. Water levels have captured the attention of the public with historic record lows reached in January of 2013.  Warmer water temperatures create less ice cover during the winter, which increases evaporation rates and lowers lake levels.

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