Christmas comes early for the Great Lakes

Oh, the weather outside is frightful,

but for the (Great) Lakes, it’s so delightful …

Okay, that’s a pretty lame attempt at turning a Christmas classic into a jingle about the Great Lakes. But it makes an important point: Harsh winters, like the one we’re having so far, are good for Great Lakes water levels.

Bitter cold temperatures translate into more ice cover on the lakes. Ice cover reduces evaporation, which is by far the largest source of water loss from the lakes. Climate change has contributed to a 71 percent decrease in Great Lakes ice cover over the past 40 years, and that has lowered lake levels.  (Read my article about that here)

Great Lakes ice cover seems to be off to a good start this winter. Check out the photo (below) that I took Dec. 12 of icebergs forming on the Lake Michigan shoreline at Grand Haven, Michigan. I can’t recall seeing icebergs form on the Lake Michigan coast in early December, but I’ve only lived in West Michigan for 22 years.

The next time you curse flesh-freezing temperatures, as I have many times in just the past week, remember this: Brutally cold winters are good for the Great Lakes that we all cherish. Happy Holidays!

Icebergs on the Lake Michigan beach at Grand Haven, Mi., on Dec. 12. (Photo by Jeff Alexander)

Icebergs on the Lake Michigan beach at Grand Haven, Mi., on Dec. 12. (Photo by Jeff Alexander)

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This entry was posted in Climate, Climate change, Energy, ice, Water levels and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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