Great Lakes Climate Change, Biting Mosquitoes, and Frog-Bit

As heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM. The Environment Report, with Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart). The report for Aug. 16, 1977 2013.

1 – How will the impacts of climate change be felt in Michigan and other states in the Great Lakes region?

For Bay County, the economy is moderately dependent on climate-vulnerable sectors, including farming, timber and especially tourism.

The information comes from a new interactive map launched by the University of Michigan and the Headwaters Economics research group.

The map includes social, economic and demographic statistics on counties in the Great Lakes region. That information is overlaid with data on municipal spending, land-use change and climate-change characteristics.

The map is meant to provide easy access to data, and help decision-makers plan for, and adapt to, regional impacts of climate change.

In Bay County, the average summer temperature has fallen by 0.2 degrees, according to the data.

Winter temps have increased by 2 degrees, and spring precipitation has increased by 10.6 percent.

This is when comparing 30-year averages from 1951-1980 and 1981-2010.

The online map and more information is available from U of M’s Graham Sustainability Institute.

2 – Before you swat a mosquito, protect yourself.

The Bay County Mosquito Control department says West Nile virus has been detected in the county and surrounding areas.

The department offers several tips to protect yourself against the virus:

  • Apply insect repellents

  • Empty standing water from containers or plastic wading pools

  • Mosquito-proof your home by installing screens

  • Keep ditches, drains, and culverts clear of weeds and trash for proper drainage

  • Change bird bath water weekly

  • Keep grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed

  • Use fine mesh screen on the top of rain barrels. The mesh will prevent female adult mosquitoes from reaching the water surface to lay eggs.

The West Nile virus is transmitted by mosquitoes who bite infected birds, and can cause sickness in humans, and in rare cases, death.

So far this year, there has been just one reported human case of West Nile in Michigan, in St. Joseph County along the Indiana border, according to U.S. Geological Survey.

3 – Here’s a new invasive species to add to the list: European frog-bit.

It’s been observed just north of Bay City and in Alpena, according to a group that tracks invasives in the Midwest.

The Midwest Invasive Species Network describes European frog-bit as a perennial, free-floating aquatic herb that forms large colonies, creating dense mats with tangled roots.

The plant resembles a tiny water lily, and occurs in shallow, slow-moving water on the edge of lakes, rivers, streams, swamps, marshes and ditches, according to the network.

The species is new enough that no control measures have been reported. But monitoring is occurring.

European frog-bit is native to Europe, and parts of Asia and Africa. It crowds out native plants and prevents sunlight from reaching submerged plants. When a large colony dies, decomposition and removal of oxygen from the water can harm fish.

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