Summer 2017: Water levels above average. Read this short Parry Sound article that quotes our Executive Director, David Sweetnam discussing shorter periods of flashier highs. Link.
Georgian Bay, Lake Huron and Lake Michigan are connected hydrologically. Historically the water levels have fluctuated between 6 and 7 feet in periods of time that span years. Fluctuations are important and necessary to our native plants and animals that have evolved and adapted to historic conditions in the upper Great Lakes. The competitive success of those plants at their favourite water levels ensure that there are a variety of plants that can provide shelter, protection and food for the large number of species that call these wetlands home. Climate change has disrupted these relationships, and impacted our own recreational activities in Georgian Bay.
Since the 60's, fluctuations continue, but with concerning deviations from historical norms. This is resulting in more dynamic changes including recent examples of historic lows followed by some of the fastest ever recorded rises. Models predict that climate change will cause a slow decline over the coming decades with unpredictable “flashier” short term highs caused by more extreme storms and other weather effects.
Current infrastructure is not equipped to handle more extreme conditions and that can lead to large economic and environmental consequences such as sewage overflows, road washouts, flooding due to overland rainfall, and increasing wave action undercutting coastal infrastructure. Climate resiliency must be built into the hydrological system of the Upper Great Lakes to mitigate the impacts predicted by climate models for next 100 years.
These adaptations must be done simultaneously with long term continued global, local and personal efforts to reduce green house gas emissions in order to keep global temperatures from increasing beyond the 2 degrees Celsius increase since industrial times that scientists warn is the critical point for reversing global changes.
Clickable links to more information:
- Since the 1960s the single biggest cause of extreme water level highs and lows has been climate change. Learn more: Climate Change Impacts
- Extreme high-highs and low-lows will not only impact our economy but our way of life as we know it today. Learn more
- Proposed solution: The bottom line is we need to find new and better ways to stabilize water levels for the long-term health and well-being of the region. Find out more.
- Frequently Asked Questions: FAQs on water levels and fluctuations, and GBF's proposed solutions. Click Here
- Evaporation: whats happening?Click here: Water levels, evaporation, ice coverage and thermodynamics
- Why fluctuations in water levels within historical norms are good? Info Here
Updated November 14, 2017