The Great Lakes and Global Warming

Our recent story about the freeze over on Lake Superior prompted a lot of discussion. Steven Goddard has submitted this article on the Great Lakes for consideration. – Anthony

Guest post by Steven Goddard

A favorite AGW talking point has been predictions of disastrous effects on the US Great Lakes.  A continuous stream of warnings has been written about declining water levels, drought and heat.

This morning the BBC reports that ice drifts coming off Lake Huron are damaging houses in Michigan.

With mountains of ice in their front yards, John Grendel and Dave Wagner consider themselves lucky.Wagner, a Michigan State Police trooper, said it was amazing how fast the mountain of ice came to shore. Both he and Grendel had kept an eye on the ice all day Sunday as the wind came from the east.”(The ice) came up a little during the day,” said Grendel.But around 8:30 p.m., he walked outside and saw ice piling up on the shore. He sent his wife, Hope, and three children into town. He began alerting neighbors.”It looked like glaciers coming in,” he said.

Besides the remarkable visual imagery above, NOAA data seems to provide little evidence supporting the claims of alarmists.
Lake Erie water levels are above normal.
https://i2.wp.com/www.glerl.noaa.gov/data/now/wlevels/eri_lvl.gif?w=700
Lake Ontario water levels are above normal
https://i1.wp.com/www.glerl.noaa.gov/data/now/wlevels/ont_lvl.gif?w=700

Lake Superior water levels are close to normal

https://i1.wp.com/www.glerl.noaa.gov/data/now/wlevels/sup_lvl.gif?w=700

https://i0.wp.com/www.glerl.noaa.gov/data/now/wlevels/mic_lvl.gif?w=700
Temperatures around the Great Lakes have been running well below normal for the last two years.
https://i1.wp.com/www.hprcc.unl.edu/products/maps/acis/mrcc/AnnDec08TDeptMRCC.png?w=700
https://i1.wp.com/www.hprcc.unl.edu/products/maps/acis/mrcc/YearTDeptMRCC.png?w=700
There is no evidence of heat, drought, or declining water levels.  So where is the crisis, and what are the alarmists basing their predictions on?

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75 thoughts on “The Great Lakes and Global Warming

  1. Steven
    You have a distressing habit of posting items based on observations and facts. Please closet yourself in the IT suite and post some nice colourful theoretical computer models
    Tonyb

  2. Hm, Great Lakes water levels are actively managed by the Corps of Engineers, primarily to supply water to the St. Lawrence Seaway. I’m not sure how this affects your arguments. And the shore-dwellers are the whiniest bunch of people you will ever see on your TV (if you live near a lake). High water levels lead to increased storm and ice damage in the winter and spring, they blame the Corps for putting to much emphasis on commercial needs over residents. Low water levels strand their boats in shallow marinas and leave homes on shallow inlets landlocked, and they complain about the Corps keeping levels too low and hoarding water in the upper lakes.

  3. Tom,
    I doubt that the ACOE is responsible for the record snowfall in Michigan over the last two winters
    http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2008/03/its_a_record_year_for_snowfall.html
    http://www.topix.com/city/shelby-mi/2009/01/record-snowfall-in-west-michigan
    TonyB,
    It is dangerous considering facts when there is funding on the line. For example, the stock market is up today because Citi reported being profitable since January 1,with “lots of cash” in the bank. So why were they given tens of billions of tax dollars, and why did the US government just pass another trillion in spending to fix the apparently non-existent financial crisis? Credit Suisse also recovered without any taxpayer assistance. Ever feel like you are being had?

  4. “A favorite AGW talking point has been predictions of disastrous effects on the US Great Lakes. ”
    US Great Lakes? Your manifest destiny is showing.

  5. Well, part of the problem in the lakes region is that the area is still experiencing glacial rebound. The Northern part of the region is rebounding at a greater rate than the Southern and this acts to “tip” the lakes. Imagine water in a dish and you lift one side a little higher than the other. So lake levels on the Southern shores are “rising” while lake levels on the Northern shores are “receding”.
    This would be particularly problematic in areas on the shore with a long North/South lake such as Chicago.

  6. Levels in the Great Lakes have varied considerably over time. There was an article in the Chicago Tribune back in June 2007 about research on water levels in the Great Lakes.
    Great Lakes’ past may offer clues on climate
    From one view of history, the Great Lakes are near record lows, approaching the bottom-scraping frustration of the mid-1960s. From another, longer view, though, the lakes are nearly as high as they’ve ever been, just a few feet below the high-water mark reached at the end of the Little Ice Age in the 1850s. Both pictures are scientifically accurate and are getting more attention from climatologists, lake scientists and environmentalists curious about history’s large climate cycles and how they tip the lakes’ eons-old balancing act of rainfall and runoff, heating and evaporation.
    During periods of low water that lasted until 2,000 years ago, a forest stood at the bottom of Duluth harbor and in parts of Lake Huron. Peat bogs stretched between what are now the Apostles Islands near Wisconsin…. Piecing together those clues, climate detectives suspect Lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron may have been lower than 20th Century historical averages in the 13th and 17th Centuries and much higher in the 16th Century as well as over the last 50 years.

  7. Tom,
    I agree.. I live near Flathead lake in Montana (the water level is managed). Every year they play a big guessing game on how much water is in the mountains and how fast it will come out. If they get it wrong they either flood people out or don’t have enough water to reach the docks. Either way people scream when they get it wrong.
    G

  8. One thing to remember about the Great Lakes levels as well, a vast majority of large communites around the lakes draw there fresh water form them, I am sure much of it does return, but any used for industry/products does not, and the Chicago river which once fed into the lake now draws water from the lake and into the Mississippi. Chicago alone, between the river and consumption is allowed approx. 2 billion gallons per day to leave the lake, yes that is a very small percentage of the total lake volume, but then that is just Chicago, there are many other large communites that draw water out as well, overtime this will have an effect on water levels.

  9. Normal means most of the time. Huge ice pile up during high winds can happen with
    normal lake levels and even with low lake levels. I grew up on Lake Erie and spent much time fishing that lake in summers. I’m there almost every summer and it all looks normal to me. Temperatures this season appear to have been a bit below normal and cold blasts from Arctic/Canada still coming down the ‘Chute’. Visiting friend who has place on Lake Ontario reports the above in addition to TV weather channels.
    I would expect lower than normal lake levels at end of summer due water use for shipping but they have obviously been recharged due normal snowfall, rainfall, etc.

  10. Tom:
    “Hm, Great Lakes water levels are actively managed by the Corps of Engineers, primarily to supply water to the St. Lawrence Seaway. I’m not sure how this affects your arguments. ”
    From:
    The History of Lake Superior Regulation: Implications for the Future
    Anne H. Clites1,* and Frank H. Quinn2
    “Although Lake Superior is a “regulated” lake, it
    is important to understand that the levels and flows
    are only controlled to a certain extent. Regulation
    has allowed a moderation of the levels and flows of
    Lake Superior, within limits that are dictated by nature.
    Lake Superior, with a volume of over 12,000
    *Corresponding author. E-mail: anne.clites@noaa.gov
    cubic kilometers and retention time of 173 years,
    has an immense hydraulic “memory.” The St.
    Marys River has a limited capacity to pass the
    water downstream. Regulatory works on both Lakes
    Superior and Ontario have succeeded in limiting
    lake level fluctuations which has encouraged more
    intensive shoreline development. The remainder of
    the Great Lakes system is naturally regulated due to
    the large lake surface areas and constricted outlet
    conditions.”
    The significant drop in summer 2007 water levels in lakes Superior, Michigan & Huron, the latter two sharing a common water level, was driven by the 2006 El Nino with associated higher temperatures, lower precipitation and lower ice levels (hence more winter evaporation). Since there are no control structures on Michigan & Huron, their water levels also fluctuate due to ongoing changes to the sandbars at the outflow of Lake Huron.
    Again, the warmistas refuse to acknowledge history on this issue. Go to the NOAA Great Lakes water level site:
    http://www.glerl.noaa.gov/data/now/wlevels/levels.html
    Have a look at the hydrograph links on the right where it can clearly be seen that the low levels in 2007 have occurred before a number of years ago. You’ll also notice their reference year of 1997 is cherry picked due to the abnormally high levels at that time. Please note that these hydrographs are a little behind in terms of reporting current water levels. Also of interest is the forecast link which for Superior and Michigan/Huron show a continued rebound to or even above long term mean water levels.
    One other thing – Steve, your reference to the lakes was the US Great Lakes. Why not just refer to theM as the Great Lakes? After all they are a shared resource between the US and Canada and their joint management by both countries is just one of many examples where the two countries’ governments work closely together for their mutual benefit.

  11. Looks like any other areas year-on-year graph of temps, rain or snowfall.
    Normal climate, shifts about doing it’s hopscotch thing.
    If I were an alarmist, I’d drop the Great Lakes thing and go for somewhere the year-on-year is warmer. Like the Desert Southwest.
    Let’s see… oh yeah… in 15 years the famous Saguaro cactus we see will disappear. Lost to AGW.

  12. Exactly Tom, too low is bad for shipping especially in places like the St. Clair river and therefore they try to keep them high. If they get too high we get a lot more shoreline property damage.
    Blaming this on AGW is so darn silly it is embarassing.

  13. Now, just suppose that those cute models (computer models !!) that are being used by AGW, the ones they keep secret, behave like the galaxy collision model I tried out. The darn thing was supposed to be fully configurable.
    Well, it crashed. It crashed if you made any changes to the defaults. It crashed if you changed the viewing angles. It crashed if you ran it twice.
    If I was an AGW modeler, and my model was like that galaxy collision thing, I wouldn’t want anyone to play with it and see how fragile it really was.

  14. Talked to my cousin two days ago. She sees “open water” out from her
    resteraunt on the North Shore of Lake Superior. However, that is shown in the
    sattelite overview as the black band along the shore, which gives 5-7 miles of
    open water in against the shore.
    Key point: Sattelite = “real” view of the ice situation. Personal observation =
    “anecdotal” and can be corrupt.
    Cousin DID indicate she had heard from other sources the ice cover was INDEED extensive this year.

  15. Steve et al.
    Of course the Great Lakes are very large, and obviously the CoE does not control snowfall. I’m only pointing out that there is an effort to actively manage lake levels, with Ontario probably the most heavily managed, so lake level measurements will not mean quite the same thing as in an unmanaged lake, and the effect of management needs to be considered.

  16. The all time record low water level on Lake Superior was set in 1926.
    It came close again in 2007 but recovered quickly after a major rain event in October 2007. Eyeball observation (by me) suggested that it came up by about half a foot in a hurry – a lot of water.
    The lake level is hugely affected by how much water exits into Lake Huron. There was some discussion in Summer 2007 that a new channel dredged for the convenience of shipping had increased the flow rate out of the Lake.

  17. Re: Steven Goddard (08:00:00) :
    “Ever feel like you are being had?”
    Oh yeah, big time.
    The Federal Reserve has given out 2.2 trillion dollars and they won’t say to who.

  18. On the other hand the bbc now confirm that sea levels are rising much faster than previously thought, so we’re all doomed if we live by the sea (600 million people), especially in Lowestoft. my advice is stay by the lake.
    “It looks very benign today but the North Sea can turn into a very ferocious beast.”
    As for the prince of Wales’ concerns, what can you say about a chap who needs someone to squeeze his toothpaste tube. He clearly knows so much about poverty!
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7935159.stm

  19. Englishman,
    Perhaps Prince Charles feels guilty about the death of the Princess while he was off writing about becoming Camilla’s feminine hygiene product?
    There is a related term which might be an apt description.
    Mark,
    The WSJ reported on February 27 that Citi was in line to receive more taxpayer money (on top of the $45 billion they already received.) And today we find out Citi has been profitable all year and that they have lots of cash in the bank. Where did that cash come from? If this news had of been released prior to the stimulus bill, it never would have passed. Now the Washington culprits in charge of the bill will claim the bill fixed the financial markets. Unbelievable.

  20. In Dakota James’ early 1980s camp classic “Greenhouse: It will happen in 1997” there is a depiction of a bone dry Lake Michigan, which, according to the book, should have occurred 18 years ago. And here we are now talking about lake ice riding up on land and causing property destruction.

  21. As we know, half of the ‘US Great Lakes’ happens to be in Canada. No worries, this discussion includes that half as well.

  22. In this area (near Detroit) Back in the 70’s the water was much higher than now. Flooding was very serious. Then the water went to a low level(dire predictions were routine, of course a result of AGW) and in the last couple years it has been rising again. Normal pattern of nature.
    It is an old wives tale that they can control the lake levels. Lake Superior flows through the St. Marys river like it always did and the Niagra Falls flow unrestricted and so on. There are no manmade restrictions in the route.
    They can let water out at Chicago headed to the Mississippi. I don’t believe this is enough to affect lake levels.

  23. slightly OT, but Reuters just published the following article:
    http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSLA435701
    This article states in its’ title that sea levels ARE rising faster than expected. My response to this them was:
    “This article is totally irresponsible in both its’ title and its’ content. First, the title states that sea levels ARE rising faster than expected while in the body of the article the terms may and might be, if certain conditions arise, predominate. Those conditions include an assumption that arctic sea ice and the Greenland ice sheet are steadily decreasing in volume. While this was true up until 2007, the arctic ice sheet has nearly recovered it’s 1979 volume during the 2008/2009 season alone. The recent claims of decreasing sea ice volume during the 2009 winter were predicated on a faulty satellite component and have since been refuted.
    Secondly, this article totally ignores the recent return of the PDO and AMO to a cool state, cooling the oceans and as a result, the planet. Again, this is evident in a greatly increased ice volume this year.
    I am disappointed that Reuters has stooped to this level of alarmism. Perhaps, the reporter needs to do a little more research before making such bombastic pronouncements.
    Ladies and gentlemen, the science is far from settled with regards to anthropogenic global warming, its’ existence, extent, and effect. Quite the contrary, the real debate has just begun. You do your readers a great disservice when you present only one side of that debate…”

  24. It is fun when the wind drives in the ice from the lake to the shore. In the 70’s I lived on Lake St Clair, not a great lake, but in the system. One day in March we saw huge chunks of thick ice driven into the shore. Then the huge chunks started grinding down the shore line, taking out every dock and boat house with them. My father ran down to the water, held out his hand and said “Stop” The ice mass stopped and our boathouse was untouched. I wish he was still alive, I would have him take on Al Gore.

  25. Climate change must be tackled before global poverty, says Prince Charles.

    Can’t do it. The UK is a party to the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol. UNFCCC Article 4, section 7 places poverty eradication as a higher priority than climate change. Prince, give all your money to the poor before you can deal with climate change, but only if in so doing you eradicate poverty.

  26. Cold Englishman (11:23:19) : said
    “On the other hand the bbc now confirm that sea levels are rising much faster than previously thought, so we’re all doomed if we live by the sea (600 million people), especially in Lowestoft. my advice is stay by the lake”
    This related to the latest report on BBC news at ten about the climate change conference in Copenhagen and the increased sea level rises they are expecting.
    They now forecast a 10mm-15mm a year rise three to five times greater than their own existing measurements and completely divorced from the actual reality.
    The BBC illustrated the scenario with footage of waves crashing over a railway track and hitting a train.
    I have posted on this before. I look on the railway line,travel on it frequently and it has long been a local joke that you consult the tide tables before you conult the train timetable.
    The point is that this has been happening ever since the line was built in the 1850’s. Brunel built it to the wrong alignment and suffered the indigity of an engineerng report at the time hauling him over the coals for it as the alignment made the line very susceptible to easterly gales at high tides.
    He built a harbour and an island to house rail workers and it is there to this day with no sign of any sea level rise whatsoever.
    I suppose the alarmist reports of this nature are less effective if you have to mention actual facts such as these, but of course the gullible are taken in.
    Tonyb

  27. “Steven Goddard (08:00:00) :
    Ever feel like you are being had?”
    [snip–oh come on ~ charles the moderator]

  28. “Jeff Norman (08:06:26) :
    “A favorite AGW talking point has been predictions of disastrous effects on the US Great Lakes. ”
    US Great Lakes? Your manifest destiny is showing.”
    This just in
    China owns the US part now.

  29. I have a home on the shorefront of Washington Island at the tip of Green Bay in Lake Michigan and check the NOAA Great Lakes water level site often.
    The great majority of water in the great lakes basin is in Lake Superior, Michigan and Huron. Lake Michigan has been below the long term mean for more than 5 years and is presently 15-20″ below the long term mean. Lake Superior recovered a bit last year but is still 5-10″ below the long term mean.
    Peak water levels recently occurred in 1985 and record lows were set in 1965 in Lake Michigan. Studies have tried to link levels to sunspots without success. There does seem to be a water cycle but it’s hard to discern given the amount of water taken out for drinking water and the leakage through the various outflows.
    Remember also that the Des plaines and Chicago rivers were reversed to flow into the Mississippi in the 1800’s so the “normal” balance of water flows have been completely changed with lock building and these reversals over the last 160 years.

  30. Having grown up on Lake Michigan, right on the lake front in Manitowoc County (WI), I can say that I have seen the levels of the lake through the decades all over the place. There were times the boat dock was under water for several years, then at a normal level, then able to actually walk around it. I always viewed it as normal, just a cycle the Great Lakes went though. The same held true for the weather — times when you could not even push the back door open due to snow and other times when we were wishing for more snow. This was all before AGW hit the scene. (By the way I cannot tell everyone enough how much I enjoy reading the posts and topics on this site. Keep it up)

  31. Interesting it’s reported in the BBC, not an American or Canadian news source.
    Not just the BBC: ked (08:40:15) : http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/03/10/gallery.michigan.ice/index.html
    Interesting reporting in the original article:

    Lake Ontario water levels are above normal.
    Lake Erie water levels are above normal.

    the graphs show above normal by about 0.2m.
    Lake Superior water levels are close to normal
    as are Lakes Michigan and Huron

    the graphs show these to be low by from 0.1-0.4m.
    By that definition Ontario and Erie are close to normal!
    However, it’s not inconsistent with the statement linked to in the original article: “the recent series of unusually warm years is already to blame for a drop of 3.5 feet in water levels for Lakes Huron, Michigan and Erie”.
    Of course from the context we might think that that’s a reasonably contemporary article whereas in fact it’s about 9 years old!
    The summary states:
    “NOAA data seems to provide little evidence supporting the claims of alarmists.”, whereas the NOAA data does show a ~1m drop in the timeframe mentioned.
    http://www.glerl.noaa.gov/data/now/wlevels/lowlevels/plot/Michigan-Huron.gif

  32. Phil,
    I know this stuff is tricky for you, but if Lake Huron was 3.5 feet below normal nine nine years ago, and it is now above normal – is the lake level is rising or falling? You never cease to amaze me with your open mind and questioning intellect.
    If you do a search on great lakes global warming, you will get hundreds of thousands of hits.
    the planet’s warming climate will only increase the rate of evaporation on the Great Lakes, slowing their rate of renewal even more.
    http://www.montrealgazette.com/Great+Lakes+enough+quench+water+shortage+Report/1282988/story.html
    Michigan, he noted, is not susceptible to rising sea levels — or hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, floods or landslides. Global warming here, he said, is now thought to mean summers like northern Arkansas, winters like southern Ohio, and shrinking Great Lakes
    http://www.wwj.com/pages/3869676.php?

  33. Looking through my pictures of Easter when I was just a wee lass, we hunted Easter eggs in the snow. The current cold snap is likely an old friend that comes round now and then. At this latitude, weather pattern variation ranges from warm enough to ripen a tomato now and then but don’t be plantin no cantelopes and expecting fruit, to cold enough to cause flash freezing in tender areas…she said while sipping an ice cold CO2 laden Coors in Anthony’s honor.

  34. I grew up on the shores of Lake Ontario and can tell you that this lake regularly rises and falls. The last couple of years it has fallen and the rotting organic matter along the shoreline has made it a challenge to be around. Apparently, this situation has reversed itself and the lake is now rising again. Can’t vouch for this personally, as I now live in GA., but it wouldn’t surprise me. I’m pretty confident that these cycles have little to do with AGW. Would appreciate any knowlegeable person’s insight into this…

  35. Really Steven?
    Anecdotes about wind-driven ice as implicit “AGW must be a lie!”
    A two month trend of Great Lake water levels presented as actually having significance.
    “Great Lakes” temperature data from only one quadrant of the region, over another uselessly short time period, and which doesn’t even appear to support your claim.
    You are descending into self-parody.

  36. The amount flowing through the St. Marys river is somewhat controlled, not totally. They most certainly do have some significant control over lake levels at several locations. The argument about exactly what level they should shoot for has been ongoing for at least 3 decades. The subject was hotly debated back then when I first lived in Port Huron and it continues. In the early 80’s they kept levels high to save money on dredging and help shipping but that produced a lot of shoreline damage. The control isn’t very tight and doesn’t respond quickly or sometimes the way they expect but it isn’t absent either.

  37. I have lived in Bay City MI most of my life, and seen this many times.
    An early spring warm spell with rain breaks up the ice out on the bay, and we get the usual March wind from the north, or worse north east. It happens quite a bit, but we only see property damage if the wind really kicks up, and there are large gaps in the ice. 30 days ago I was driving my 2 ton truck out on the Saginaw Bay. It has been unusually cold this year with lots of snow.
    Just my .2

  38. Steven Goddard (19:59:48) :
    Phil,
    I know this stuff is tricky for you, but if Lake Huron was 3.5 feet below normal nine nine years ago, and it is now above normal – is the lake level is rising or falling? You never cease to amaze me with your open mind and questioning intellect.

    I’m sorry that I do not share your delusion regarding the data. Your inability to read graphs is indeed amazing, according to the graph you produced Huron is presently below the long term mean, not above normal as you claim!
    The longer term graph which NOAA produced (see my post above) shows that Huron is at the same level as it was 9 years ago, over a meter below where it was in 1997.

  39. Phil,
    Sorry, I meant to write Erie, not Huron. But it doesn’t make any difference because all the lakes have risen over the last few years, and all are close to normal.
    As usual, your argument centers around nitpicking irrelevant details. What do you think about Hansen’s 6C temperature rise this century and his 5m sea level rise this century? If you actually cared about numbers you would be directing your energies elsewhere.

  40. Jeff Norman (08:06:26) :
    “A favorite AGW talking point has been predictions of disastrous effects on the US Great Lakes. ”
    US Great Lakes? Your manifest destiny is showing.

    And I just thought it was because the US CO2 production would raise our side of the lake, but Canadian’s don’t make as much CO2, so the computer models show their side of the lake staying low 😉

  41. This morning the BBC reports that ice drifts coming off Lake Huron are damaging houses in Michigan.
    We saw it yesterday on The Weather Channel.

  42. One must be careful in interpreting what is going on with the lake level of Michigan-Huron since its outlet is entirely uncontrolled. Climate is likely only one key factor – the other being the outlet topology which varies as sandbars shift around. There are also thoughts that dredging and other manmade alterations to the outlet channel also impact lake levels.

  43. Alex Llewelyn,
    From the Vice-Presidential debate. Looks to me like Palin gave a very sensible answer and Biden was clueless and inarticulate. She was hammered by the MSM for telling the truth, and Biden received high praise for perpetuating nonsense.
    IFILL: Governor, I’m happy to talk to you in this next section about energy issues. Let’s talk about climate change. What is true and what is false about what we have heard, read, discussed, debated about the causes of climate change?
    PALIN: Yes. Well, as the nation’s only Arctic state and being the governor of that state, Alaska feels and sees impacts of climate change more so than any other state. And we know that it’s real.
    I’m not one to attribute every activity of man to the changes in the climate. There is something to be said also for man’s activities, but also for the cyclical temperature changes on our planet.
    But there are real changes going on in our climate. And I don’t want to argue about the causes. What I want to argue about is, how are we going to get there to positively affect the impacts?
    We have got to clean up this planet. We have got to encourage other nations also to come along with us with the impacts of climate change, what we can do about that.
    As governor, I was the first governor to form a climate change sub-cabinet to start dealing with the impacts. We’ve got to reduce emissions. John McCain is right there with an “all of the above” approach to deal with climate change impacts.
    We’ve got to become energy independent for that reason. Also as we rely more and more on other countries that don’t care as much about the climate as we do, we’re allowing them to produce and to emit and even pollute more than America would ever stand for. So even in dealing with climate change, it’s all the more reason that we have an “all of the above” approach, tapping into alternative sources of energy and conserving fuel, conserving our petroleum products and our hydrocarbons so that we can clean up this planet and deal with climate change.
    IFILL: Senator, what is true and what is false about the causes?
    BIDEN: Well, I think it is manmade. I think it’s clearly manmade. And, look, this probably explains the biggest fundamental difference between John McCain and Barack Obama and Sarah Palin and Joe Biden — Governor Palin and Joe Biden.
    If you don’t understand what the cause is, it’s virtually impossible to come up with a solution. We know what the cause is. The cause is manmade. That’s the cause. That’s why the polar icecap is melting.

  44. Actual data
    From the COE Detroit District Wed site
    Deviation from long term average as of 8 March 2009
    Superior -0.53 ft.
    Michigan/Huron -0.90 ft.
    St. Clair +0.23 ft.
    Erie +0.33 ft.
    Ontario +0.61 ft.

  45. @Wondering aloud
    Be more specific. How is the St. Marys river controlled?
    How do they control the levels of the Great Lakes?
    No dams that I know of.
    The ice is nothing unusual around here. Just a matter of the wind and current piling up the ice.

  46. Jeff Norman (08:06:26) :
    “A favorite AGW talking point has been predictions of disastrous effects on the US Great Lakes. ”
    US Great Lakes? Your manifest destiny is showing.

    Actually, no. The Canadian Great Lakes are expected to be fine, thanks to Canada being ahead of the US in Earth Friendly AGW policies. ;^)
    On a serious note, the local news reports on the drifting ice depict it as dramatic and decidedly abnormal. SE Michigan is currently (as of this post) experiencing serious flooding in all three of it drainage rivers, due to record snow fall and rain. Local news also reports that the lakes are near, at or above normal levels.
    It’s best to find local news reports to assess weather and climate events. While the AGW “scientists” can con the public on national/international media, it’s impossible, for example, to convince the locals that normal water levels are below normal.

  47. (Let’s see if this getss it right.)
    Jeff Norman (08:06:26) :
    “A favorite AGW talking point has been predictions of disastrous effects on the US Great Lakes. ”
    US Great Lakes? Your manifest destiny is showing.

    Actually, no. The Canadian Great Lakes are expected to be fine, thanks to Canada being ahead of the US in Earth Friendly AGW policies. ;^)
    On a serious note, the local news reports on the drifting ice depict it as dramatic and decidedly abnormal. SE Michigan is currently (as of this post) experiencing serious flooding in all three of it drainage rivers, due to record snow fall and rain. Local news also reports that the lakes are near, at or above normal levels.
    It’s best to find local news reports to assess weather and climate events. While the AGW “scientists” can con the public on national/international media, it’s impossible, for example, to convince the locals that normal water levels are below normal.

  48. gblittle,
    I live on the Huron side in the thumb and you are right, the lake levels have been jumping all over the place during my lifetime. In 1986 (110 year record flooding) the levels were above average and caused much erosion.
    It is humorous how every event on the planet is somehow linked to AGW during this current period. If you are from an earlier generation, 1964 saw record lows as well, then there was the dust bowl era which also revealed low Great Lakes levels. Just as it always has, the Lakes will recover and the cycle will repeat.
    The problem with AGW prognosticators is no matter what happens, it must always be somehow linked to man causing it. Such nonsense.
    For a short analysis and history of Great Lakes water levels, see:
    http://www.glerl.noaa.gov/pubs/brochures/lakelevels/lakelevels.pdf

  49. DR said in part……..
    “It is humorous how every event on the planet is somehow linked to AGW during this current period.”
    When I was a babe in arms, my mother bless her heart, used to attribute every unwelcome variation in the weather to what she termed as “The Atom!”
    For years before AGW appeared, “The Atom” did its dirty work. Witches did it centuries before.
    Preceding that, no doubt Roman Gods were stirring the atmosphere.

  50. Back in the dim past of the 1970s there was a particularly bad year for devastating hurricanes and storms. My Grandmother blamed it all on Skylab.
    Non scientific people rely on a tried-and-true algorithm for attributing cause and effect to “what’s new”. It works often and well enough for general problem solving, but without logic and reason it sees “Castles in the clouds” and connections and patterns where none exist. I suspect the same is true with warming and CO2 concentrations.

  51. Stan W. 5:23:44
    The actual data for all great lakes is at the link below. The graphs are presented as depth in meters. When you do the conversion Lake Michigan is 13.5″ below the long term mean. Water levels recovered slightly in 2008 and so far in 2009 but have been well below the mean for some time. That’s not to say they will not recover further this year but I have been unable to use my boat house for the 6 years I’ve owned my water front property as the water has fallen below the distance the rails extend and I’ve had to add 20 feet of dock to get the dock end to at least 40″ of water so you can pull a boat up.
    http://www.glerl.noaa.gov/data/now/wlevels/levels.html

  52. Phil. (19:39:24) :

    whereas the NOAA data does show a ~1m drop in the timeframe mentioned.

    Like it hasn’t happened before?
    The graph you linked shows plenty of similar dips. Also, I’m used to looking at the data from US Army Corp of Engineers here.
    http://www.lre.usace.army.mil/hh/GreatLakesWaterLevels/GLWL-CurrentMonth-Meters.pdf
    It starts in 1918, so I’d never seen the pre 1900 data. Why the big, and seemingly permanent drop around 1890 in the graph you linked? AGW?

  53. Phil. (19:39:24) :
    “whereas the NOAA data does show a ~1m drop in the timeframe mentioned.”
    Like it hasn’t happened before?
    The graph you linked shows plenty of similar dips. Also, I’m used to looking at the data from US Army Corp of Engineers here.

    Sure, I was responding to an assertion by Goddard.
    http://www.lre.usace.army.mil/hh/GreatLakesWaterLevels/GLWL-CurrentMonth-Meters.pdf
    It starts in 1918, so I’d never seen the pre 1900 data. Why the big, and seemingly permanent drop around 1890 in the graph you linked? AGW?

    More likely the permanent diversion of the Chicago river from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi river.

  54. 2008 is the nadir of the 10 year long “solar winter.”
    Greenland ice sheets are 100 times as thick as Arctic Ocean ice.
    The Oceans are the flywheel of the climate.

  55. Phil. (20:12:32) :

    More likely the permanent diversion of the Chicago river from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi river.

    Thanks Phil.
    Can you comment on the accuracy of this statement?

    An interesting fact about the river is that its flow was permanently reversed in 1900.

    http://www.lib.niu.edu/2001/ihy010452.html
    I’m referring specifically to the fact that the graph you linked to shows a sharp drop around 1890.
    http://www.glerl.noaa.gov/data/now/wlevels/lowlevels/plot/Michigan-Huron.gif
    Also, I’m wondering if you’d like to comment on any possible correlation between the lake levels and the flow through the Chicago diversion.
    http://img6.imageshack.us/img6/7406/chiflow.jpg
    The figure showing flows was generated from this site, using annual averages calculated from the monthly data.
    http://www.lre.usace.army.mil/greatlakes/hh/outflows/historic%20connecting%20channel%20outflows/

  56. Shawn Whelan said:
    “Be more specific. How is the St. Marys river controlled?
    How do they control the levels of the Great Lakes?
    No dams that I know of.”
    Lake Superior, at 602 feet above sea level, is the lake with the highest elevation of its surface. (It is interesting to note that with the exception of Lake Erie all the Great Lakes attain depths below sea level; were it not for topography constraints they would all be salt water.) By treaty with the US, Canada diverts small amounts of water into the Albany River/Hudson Bay watershed for hydroelectric power in the area around Lake Nipigon, which is a tributary to Lake Superior. However, the vast majority of Lake Superior’s outflow (around 60,000 cfs) goes down the St. Mary’s River. Sault Ste. Marie (“The Rapids of Saint Mary”) was a lengthy rapids at the east end of the Lake. During the Ice Age this outlet was sometimes blocked by ice and Lake Superior’s level rose high enough to make its outlet the Au Train/Whitefish River valley in central Upper Michigan. From the Whitefish outlet it flowed down Little Bay de Noc into Green Bay, thence into Lake Michigan via the Rock Island Passage. A bathymetry chart of Lake Michigan clearly shows the alluvial fan at the mouth of Rock Island Passage. See “Whitefish Fan” on this image: http://www.glerl.noaa.gov/data/bathy/lakemichnorth.gif
    Anyway, with the construction of Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie in 1855 the rest of the width of the St. Mary’s River was dammed up with a low dam (about five feet high). These are called the compensating works and they have many gates to allow for excess water to be released down the river. In addition to the compensating works, the US maintains four locks with about a 23 foot lift, the largest, the Poe Lock, being 1,010 feet by 105 feet. The Canadian government also maintains a smaller lock across the river at Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. Consolidated Edison has a power plant in Soo, Mich., so there are many avenues available to control the outflow of Lake Superior. Nevertheless, the USACoE still sometimes cannot keep levels within the desired limits.
    Lakes Huron and Michigan are, hydrologically speaking, one body of water. By far the largest source of water for these lakes is the St. Mary’s River, and the only natural outlet is the St. Clair River, at the south end of Lake Huron. Chicago is allowed some diversion of water into the Mississippi Basin through the Chicago River and Little Calumet River, both of which feed into the Illinois River. There are also navigation locks on the Chicago River and Little Calumet River to allow barge traffic on the Western Rivers to reach Chicago, South Chicago, and Indiana Harbor. As pointed out earlier in the thread, the discharge from Chicago is not significant compared to the flow in the lakes overall. A bigger factor regulating outflow in the St. Clair River is the Huron Cut, a dredged navigation channel at the mouth of Lake Huron. This channel increases efficiency of flow from the lake into the St. Clair. To a lesser degree the St. Clair Cutoff Channel by Squirrel Island at the mouth of the St. Clair River also allows greater flow through the whole system. On the other hand, with glacial rebound still taking place, the elevation of the mouth of Lake Huron is still slowly rising.
    Lake Erie’s water level is more or less uncontrolled directly. There is no controlling how much water enters from the St. Clair (or its other large tributary, the Maumee), and the constriction caused by the Niagara River is uncontrolled, except that at night the hydroelectric plants on the Niagara River will divert so much water as to greatly reduce the flow over Niagara Falls. This also slows the recession of the Falls. There are also navigation diversions from Lake Erie in the form of the Welland Canal (to Lake Ontario), and the Black Rock Canal, which is the western terminus of the Erie Canal.
    Lake Ontario is easier to control water levels in than it’s upstream neighbors. There are locks and dams that control pool levels at the mouth of the lake and also going down the St. Lawrence Seaway.
    The short answer to the question is that yes, we have some control over the levels of two of the lakes directly and the other three indirectly, but that level of control is far from absolute. Also the alarmism that accompanied the recent (1998-2007) drop in lake levels far exceeded in extent and decibel level the coverage of the rebounding lake levels of late.

  57. Hi all, what a fantastic blog, so much intelligence in one place could be dangerous. As a brit searching for info on the Michigan Ice drifts I can tell you the BBC jumps at any excuse to promote GW theories, anyone saying anything different is quickly gagged and shipped off to the asylum. ALL climate models are bogus as it is impossible to calibrate them correctly because we can never know all the input needed. Simple facts (I assume they are correct – never assume!) like lake level measurements are all we need. On GW, all we need are accurate temperature measurements and graphs, nothing else. Look at the Arctic ice website, they admit their model was wrong and they overestimated the reduction in ice by 10%. I thought it was based on satellite photos but no, it’s just more mathematical nonesense based on selective readings.

  58. Lake Erie’s water level is more or less uncontrolled directly. There is no controlling how much water enters from the St. Clair (or its other large tributary, the Maumee
    The St. Clair River flows into Lake St. Clair then into the Detroit River then into Lake Erie. The Maumee River flows directly into Lake Erie at Toledo, Ohio.
    The Detroit River has been dredged to a level deep enough to allow large freighters to navigate and the dredgings piled in the middle of the river. There was many changes in the lakes that would not be allowed by the enviros today. With the exception of Chicago there is nothing in the system that actually allows man to control the levels.

  59. Stan
    The army corp of engineers website you reference does not really recognize the cycling of Lake Michign/Lake Huron during the year. The average lake level in July and August is about 12″ higher than it’s lowest levels during the winter months. Your site shows a static 176.32 meter long term average. Based on your own site’s 17.065 reading as of yesterday Lake Michigan is 10″ below the long term mean. Based on NOAA’s long term data the long term peak level of April-August is about 176.7 meters. As of today Lake Michigan is 8″ below the long term mean for March. Water levels this year have benefitted from the cold weather providing more ice cover in the northern parts of the lake limiting some evaporation. There has been a good increase in precipation around Lake Michigan and Superior so far this Winter and most of last year. With average precipitation this year both may meet or start exceeding the long term average.

  60. Shawn Whelan (06:47:46) :
    “The Detroit River has been dredged to a level deep enough to allow large freighters to navigate and the dredgings piled in the middle of the river. There was many changes in the lakes that would not be allowed by the enviros today. With the exception of Chicago there is nothing in the system that actually allows man to control the levels.”
    Actually, the Detroit River is not dredged at all in its upper two thirds. There is a dredged channel from the Livingstone Light (#77) between Bois Blanc Island and Grosse Isle out to the Detroit River Light, but this dredged channel is begins too close to elevation of Lake Erie to be hydrologically significant to the water level upstream. The St. Clair River, OTOH has the very hydrologically significant Huron Cut Channel from Buoys 11&12 down to the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse. This dredged channel allows more water to flow into the St. Clair River than would otherwise be the case, and makes the level of Lakes Michigan and Huron persistently a few inches lower, all other things being equal. Also the St. Clair Cutoff Channel, which created Seaway Island by bisecting Basset Island is significant, especially in the spring when ice dams are created in the alluvial fan at the mouth of the river as it enters Lake St. Clair. The Cutoff Channel clears much sooner than the other channels, especially once shipping resumes, and allows more flow through the St. Clair.
    Your reference to the controlling works at Chicago is trivial given the amount of water that is actually allowed to leave the system via that means, as are the diversions into Hudson Bay in the northern watershed of Lake Superior.
    To say that outside of Chicago there is nothing that allows man to exercise some control over the water levels of the lakes, especially Superior and Ontario, is just plain ignorant. If you look at the first image on this Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soo_Locks you can see just a glimpse of the entrance to the power canal at the extreme lower right, then moving left is the entrance canal for the four American Soo Locks, then another power canal, then comes the compensating works, which are difficult to see just in front of the International Bridge, but they are there, followed by the Canadian Soo Lock, and in the far left is the outflow of another power canal.
    As I said in the previous post, we have many tools to help control the water level in the lakes, but these tools only work to slow or accelerate trends. The forces that drive lake levels are too powerful to be fully controlled.

  61. Quote Bart Neilson
    To say that outside of Chicago there is nothing that allows man to exercise some control over the water levels of the lakes, especially Superior and Ontario, is just plain ignorant.
    Quote Bart Neilson
    The forces that drive lake levels are too powerful to be fully controlled.

  62. And of course there was the year they closed down the American section of the Niagra Falls. And some how we survived. It isn’t that simple. There is also the speed of the flow to take into account. Basic hydraulics.

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