WHAT DOES CLIMATE CHANGE OR A VARIABLE CLIMATE MEAN TO PRESQUE ISLE AND OUR COMMUNITY?

November 25, 2013 7:55 am Published by Leave your thoughts
Marina Channel on bay  Fall 2012

Low water at Marina entrance

I don’t know if you have noticed, but no matter where you live we are in the midst of a wave of changing weather patterns.   Is it from climate change?   Maybe, or as some believe, maybe not. I am not a scientist nor politician so I must just relate to what I see happening.  However one way or the other, there are changes in rain and snow patterns, stronger storms, rising sea levels and increased flooding and even longer droughts, all of which seem to be having an impact in our communities.

For example, in Miami Beach, Florida, it is a twice or three time monthly event for flooding to cover many streets during high tide.  According to a local scientist, “People tend to underestimate the gravity here, I think because it sounds far off. – - – in the future I’m confident it will be obvious to everyone that the sea is marching inland and it’s not going to stop.”  Only recently have these events been covered by the media.

How will these changes in climate affect us here in Erie and how will Presque Isle be affected?   I have been reading a study produced by Freshwater Future on this subject, and in this study a few interesting facts emerged.   In the area of air temperatures in the Great Lakes region, here are a few facts to consider:

                         1.  Air temperatures are increasing and this is likely to continue.

                         2.  Summers are warming faster than winters.

                         3.  The USDA plant hardiness zone for this area has moved this area from

                         zone 5 to zone 6 since 1990.  (This means an average two weeks longer

                         growing season)

 

 In the area of precipitation, here are a few factors to consider:

  1.   Summers are getting drier and winters and springs wetter.

  2. Individual rainstorms are getting to be more intense.

  3. Changes in lake-effect snow are now not well predicted.

  4. The number of extreme weather events such as thunderstorms have been increasing.

  5. Precipitation in the Great Lakes has increased about 12% over the last 50 years, while in the southeast and southwest it has declined by over 20%.  (This is considered a huge change for that time period).

 

What does all this mean to you and me?   How will it affect Presque Isle?   Well, here are some of the challenges we could be facing:

Rising air temperatures

  • In winter, heating costs and traffic safety could improve.

  • During summer, public health will be negatively affected by heat waves, reduced air quality, and various heat related diseases.

  • Increased demand for air conditioning will increase likelihood of increased cost plus more blackouts and power outages.

  • Savings in winter heating costs may be offset by costs of more severe winter storms and property damage.

  • More pests and diseases due to warmer weather.

  • Changes in migration times and routes.  (Monarch Butterflies are an example)

  • Changes in where certain plants and animals are found.

  • Changes in timing of seasonal events such as butterfly and bird migration, fish spawning, and when plants sprout, bloom and die.

  • Increased risk of invasive species growth.

  • Decline in winter lake ice.

 

Changes in Great Lakes waters and water levels

  • Due to inconsistent rainfall and increased evaporation because higher temperatures, experts predict that significant reductions in the Great Lakes water levels can be expected.  This will adversely affect shipping, fishing, tourism, water quality, beaches, human health and the general ecosystems.

  • Warmer water holds less oxygen and speeds algae blooms and decomposition.  It happen this summer in Presque Isle Bay and has ben a feature for the last 5 years on the western end of Lake Erie.

  • Climate change is likely to re-mobilize mercury, PCBs and other pollutants from the soil and sediments, increasing the uptake to fish and animals and to the public who might eat them.

  • The combination of more inconsistent rainfall and higher temperatures will make drought conditions more common.

  • Possible conflicts over water use and management.

Marina Fall 2012 - -Low Water

Low water on Marina Lake–spring 2013

It is already having an affect in Erie and on Presque Isle.  For example, many marina’s on Lake Erie found their docks high and dry for part of 2013.

What can we do about all this?   There is not much you and I can do to stop all of this because it has taken 25 or 30 years to get to the present situation.  We as individuals  must learn to adapt to the conditions and see that your elected officials recognize that they must prepare our communities and parks like Presque Isle for more and increasing changes. Let;s hope that at least some of them have studied the upcoming problems and are at least thinking about some sort of adaptive solutions.

 

See you on the park!!

 


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