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Experts talk climate change

October 30, 2012
Mining Journal, the Associated Press

ANN ARBOR - Researchers are scheduled to present new findings about climate change and variability in the Great Lakes region in Ann Arbor Tuesday.

The Great Lakes Climate Symposium 2012 is part of an annual series run by the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center, a collaboration between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration funds the program.

The free public event will feature a panel of scientists who recently completed papers summarizing the most up-to-date knowledge about climate change in the region and its likely effects.

David Bidwell, GLISA program manager, said climate change in the Great Lakes region is often examined by looking at temperature and precipitation levels.

Bidwell said some issues have been discovered in temperature, as winter nights are not as cold as they used to be.

"Another concern is evidence that in some areas of the Great Lakes, they have heavier storms, so maybe they're getting similar amounts of precipitation, but getting it in larger batches," he said. "That creates a whole lot of problems in terms of runoff and storm water management and what that means in terms of contaminants and nutrients flowing into the lakes."

Bidwell said other topics to be covered during the panel discussion will range from the effects of an earlier greening season on Michigan crops to how global climate change affects the Great Lakes regions.

"Part of the challenge, when you work with climate change and you're looking at projections, you're giving a range of possible futures, so we're in a big period within climate science of people trying to refine models and understand how these large global models relate to changes that are taking place locally," Bidwell said.

Superior Watershed Partnership Executive Director Carl Lindquist said some of those local changes include a reduction in ice cover in Lake Superior, a loss of some plant species, more severe rainfalls and a changing forest cover.

"Duluth and Thunder Bay both had severe flooding this year, unprecedented flooding," Lindquist said. "Things like that, but it's not all dramatic like that. There's a lot of subtle things that could affect our economy."



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