Natural Resources Defense Council | Rocky Mountain Climate Organization
[From an NRDC Switchboard posting by Theo Spencer] Our report, Great Lakes National Parks in Peril: The Threats of Climate Disruption, features new information on rising temperatures in the Parks. The Parks we focus on are the five largest on the Great Lakes: Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (NL) in Indiana (near Chicago); Sleeping Bear Dunes NL, Pictured Rocks NL, and Isle Royale National Park (NP) in Michigan (just offshore from Minnesota); and Apostle Islands NL in Wisconsin. Our press release sums up the report.
The study focuses on impacts already taking place as well as those projected to happen with rising temperatures. Among the startling conclusions:
- Higher temperatures. Summers in Indiana Dunes could become as hot by late in this century (2070- 2099) as summers in Gainesville, Florida, have been in recent history (1971-2000). Summers in Sleeping Bear Dunes could become as hot as those in Lexington, Kentucky, recently have been.
- Less winter ice. Higher air and water temperatures already are reducing winter ice cover on the Great Lakes, a trend expected to accelerate. Lake Michigan may have some winters with no ice cover in as soon as 10 years, and Lake Superior may typically be ice-free in about three decades.
- Major erosion of shoreline and related features. With less ice and more open waters, the lakes will have more waves in winter than before, especially during strong storms, increasing erosion threats to park shorelines and structures. The park staff at Sleeping Bear Dunes has expressed concern that the park’s signature perched dunes, atop towering bluffs above the shorelines, could be vulnerable to accelerated loss from increased erosion, resulting from a loss of winter ice and snow cover that keeps the dunes’s sand from blowing away and from more waves undercutting the bluffs on which the dunes perch.
- Loss of wildlife. In Isle Royale, the moose population has declined, as have the numbers of the wolves that depend on them as prey. Other park mammals at risk as the climate changes include lynx and martens. Birds at risk of being eliminated from the parks include common loons and ruffed grouse, iconic birds of the Great Lakes and the North Woods…