Lake Superior warming could harm shipping and tourism

Lake Superior Ice

The rise in Lake Superior temperatures will likely place significant strain on the regional economy over the next few decades, according to a new environmental survey.

Some of the key findings suggest ice could be absent from the lake within 30 years and within 50 years the lake could drop by two feet.

The report by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and Natural Resources Defense Council says that “human-caused climate disruption is already damaging national parks in the Great Lakes region.”

Loss of wildlife is one kind of disruption:

In Isle Royale, the moose population has declined to half the long-term average. Temperatures higher than moose can tolerate are suspected to be responsible–as in nearby northwest Minnesota, where the moose population has crashed in the past two decades from 4,000 to fewer than 100 animals, coinciding with higher temperatures. Also, warmer winters in Isle Royale enable many more ticks to overwinter so that a single moose can be infested by 80,000 ticks, causing such a large loss of blood that the moose are more vulnerable to the park’s wolves, which also have declined in number. Other park mammals at risk as the climate changes include lynx and martens.

A survey of moose populations by the University of Minnesota isn’t conclusive, but concerns linger about their numbers.

Still, Bayfield Mayor Larry MacDonald says more action is needed to protect the lake.

“Anyone who has a dock or a breakwall may be sticking out of the water and unusable,” MacDonald tells WDIO.

The study is based on the impact climate change will have on the Great Lakes National Parks but Mayor MacDonald said the findings of this study should concern all who live on the big lakes, including those affected by the shipping industry.

“For every inch the lake goes down the shipping industry is greatly affected,” said MacDonald. “Everything is going to cost more to ship.”

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  • mdbrock

    I drove up from Missouri on my way to BWCA and found Lake Superior to be totally frigid. I would be much more likely to visit in future if lake temperatures were in the 80s and 90s which I experienced Saturday lazing about Table Rock Lake on my noodle. So I hope it warms up for your tourism!