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USA - Study shows water hundreds of feet below the surface of Lake Michigan is warming

CHICAGO — Climate change is reaching all the way down to the depths of one of Earth’s largest lakes.

Water hundreds of feet below the surface of Lake Michigan is warming, especially in winter, according to a report published last week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The warming could change the seasonal patterns of the lake — and alter a way of life for ecosystems and industry alike.

It’s been known that Lake Michigan surface temperatures are increasing and ice cover is lessening as human activity spurs climate change.

“These changes may seem very small, a couple tenths of a degree per decade, but this has been going on for several decades now, perhaps longer than is reflected in our monitoring,” said Craig Stow, a NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory scientist and author of the study.

The lakes have been changing, ever since they were formed, Stow said. “But when they change fast it means humans have to adapt to the changes that occur. And if we don’t monitor for them we run the risk of being caught by surprise.”

The first-of-its-kind look at deep water warming fills in another gap in climate change research, revealing what’s happening below Lake Michigan’s surface.

The overall warming, ice loss and shrinking winters could lead to long-term shifts, altering the lake’s food web and sending fisheries toward uncharted territory.

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