Climate and Environmental Degradation of the Great Lakes
Steven L. Rhodes
AbstractClimate is increasingly viewed as a critical variable that must be incorporated into planning and remediation activities to restore beneficial use of the Great Lakes. Recent efforts to characterize and remediate ecological degradation in particular locales around the Great Lakes shoreline have helped demonstrate the extent to which societal neglect of climatic influences has contributed to damage to environmental quality. An improved societal understanding of the role of climate in historical environmental degradation of the Great Lakes can help in the design and implementation of future regional environmental policy, particularly if scientific projections of global warming during the next century prove to be accurate. Even modest climatic changes will alter the region's hydrologic regime, leading to changes in net basin water supply, mean lake levels, and intensity and frequency of severe storms. Such changes could introduce new challenges for long-term management of the Great Lakes ecosystem.
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