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🗞️ Driving the news: The Great Lakes experienced the lowest New Year’s Day ice cover in at least 50 years, with only 0.35% ice coverage, significantly below the average 9% for this time of year
• This trend, part of a five-decade decline, is attributed in part to human-caused climate change.
🔭 The context: NOAA data indicates a consistent decrease in Great Lakes ice cover since 1973. The annual average maximum ice coverage has dropped by approximately 5% per decade, with significant yearly variability
• The decline affects various industries and environmental factors, including shoreline protection, spawning grounds for microorganisms, and snowstorm patterns.
🌍 Why it matters for the planet: Decreasing ice cover in the Great Lakes has broad ecological implications
• It increases shoreline erosion due to unprotected coastlines, impacts local ecosystems, and can lead to more intense snowstorms due to unfrozen lake surfaces
⏭️ What's next: Continued warming of the Earth suggests further decreases in ice cover. This change could affect commercial shipping, tourism, and local economies dependent on winter lake activities, alongside ongoing environmental consequences
💬 One quote: "There’s a clear trend, and ice cover in the Great Lakes is decreasing." - James Kessler, NOAA.
📈 One stat: Between 1973 and 2017, the average Great Lakes ice cover dropped by about 70%.
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