Getting Warmer on Climate Predictions, Surface Temperatures

For Friday, Dec. 2, 2016

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/qf7mohqej0lpjhf/ENV%20REPORT%2012-2-16%20mrgreatlakes.mp3]

1  – The Great Lakes are part of one climate system, although they differ greatly from one another.

great lakes model nayuki

Credit: Nayuki

A new integrated computer model brings together climate and water information for the Great Lakes region. It will be useful for climate predictions, dealing with invasive species and other environmental research.

Michigan Technological University helped develop the model, along with the federal Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab in Ann Arbor, and other organizations.

A researcher says knowing the warming trend is an important concept in climate change modeling, along with understanding that extreme events become more severe.

The new model will help researchers better understand the connection between air and water in the Great Lakes.

The model’s accuracy was vetted by comparing its simulations to historical records and satellite data.

2 – The temperatures of the Great Lakes were the warmest in six years for late November.

Surface temperatures in November 2016 were several degrees warmer than at the same time two years ago.

Data for Saginaw Bay shows temperatures in the 40s and 50s for Nov. 30.

With winter on its way, warm lake waters and cold winds blowing across them will be a perfect combination for lake-effect snow, according to officials with the federal Coastwatch program.

The last time the lakes were this warm, in November of 2010, lake surfaces remained mostly ice free for the entire winter.

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9:30 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR. Follow @jeffkarton Twitter #MrGreatLakes

 

Trump and Climate Research, Zero Emission Vehicles

For Friday, Nov. 11, 2016

 

1- Climate experts are weighing in on the election of Donald Trump as president.

The nonprofit news organization Climate Central reached out to climate, energy and policy researchers to see how they think a Trump presidency will impact climate research and efforts to limit future global warming.

Those quoted include Andrew Hoffman, a sustainable development expert at the University of Michigan.

Hoffman says Trump’s election throws the future of environmental policy, both in the U.S. and globally, into confusion.  

He says Trump’s stated and tweeted positions on climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency, Paris climate accord, Clean Power Plan and other related issues suggest that the future of programs and policies going back to President Nixon’s formation of the EPA are in question.

Hoffman noted that Trump has endorsed programs by the National Wildlife Federation to protect the Great Lakes. Hoffman says we’ll have to wait to see how the president-elect’s positions solidify in the coming days of his administration.

2 – Michigan is seeking a share of $1.2 billion for zero emission vehicle projects.

A state-issued Request-for-Information is the result of a Volkswagen settlement approved by a U.S. District Court in California. The settlement set aside $1.2 billion for zero emission vehicle projects over a 10-year period, distributed in $300 million allotments every 30 months.

Volkswagen was found to have falsified diesel emissions test results for 475,000 vehicles.

Michigan is seeking information on projects to offset the negative effects of Volkswagen’s actions in Michigan. The request allows interested individuals and organizations to recommend eligible projects and programs by public and private entities.

The deadline for submissions is Dec. 21.

The VW settlement also established a Trust Fund for projects that reduce nitrogen oxide emissions in areas of Michigan significantly affected by diesel emissions. Michigan is due to receive about $60 million for potential projects to address diesel emission reductions.

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

Follow @jeffkart on Twitter #MrGreatLakes

 

Lake Huron Fisheries Workshops, Earth Day, and Refuge Fire

For Friday, April 17, 2015

(No audio today – Pledge Drive)

1 – Bay City is the site of an upcoming Lake Huron Regional Fisheries Workshop.

The local workshop is from 6-9 p.m. on April 30 at Knights of Columbus Hall on South River Road, north of the James Clements Airport.

The workshop is being held by Michigan Sea Grant and others. It will include information on research findings, management updates, and fishing trends.

The workshops are free and open to the public, but registration is requested.

Two other evening workshops will be held in Oscoda on April 23 and Cedarville on April 28.

The agenda for Bay City includes discussion of a Saginaw Bay reef habitat assessment, and walleye movement in Lake Huron.

2 – Delta College is celebrating Earth Day, on April 22, with a guest speaker and other events.

delta-college-earth-day-2015

Delta College Earth Day poster, 2015.

Brent Lofgren, an atmospheric scientist from the Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab in Ann Arbor, will talk about “‘The Impact of Climate Change on Michigan’s Water Balance.”

The talk is from 10-11 a.m. in room E112.

Also on tap for the day is a screening of the “Growing Cities” film, free white pine and blue spruce seedlings, and a presentation on urban farming.

For more information, search for “Delta Sustainability” on Facebook.

3 – The Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge caught fire this week.

Rx fire Bremer Marsh 4-13-2006 e

Credit: SNWR

It was intentional, for what’s known as a prescribed burn.

The fire was set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday at the refuge, located in Saginaw County. Prescribed burns were conducted in grasslands and marshes to improve wildlife habitat on the land.

Region 3 of the Fish and Wildlife Service uses fire to treat about 70,000 acres of refuge lands each year in the Midwest. Burn times are based on weather, and local governments and fire departments are given a heads up first.

The Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge manages about 10,000 acres in Saginaw County for fish and wildlife habitat.

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

Follow @jeffkart on Twitter

Climate Education, Dark Skies and (Barely) Biodegradable Plastics

For Friday, April 3, 2015

1April 22 is Earth Day. The week of Earth Day, April 18-25, is Climate Education Week.

The week, organized by the Earth Day Network, urges teachers to educate and engage students on climate change.

To help, there’s a free Toolkit that educators can use. It includes a week of lesson plans, activities and contests for K through 12 students.

The lessons meet Next Generation Science and Common Core standards.

There’s a different theme for each day of the week, and the lessons include videos and items for various grade levels.

You can find the lesson plans and more information at ClimateEducationWeek.org.

2Look up at the sky tonight. How many stars do you see?

You’d see more if there were fewer unnecessary outdoor lights on homes and other buildings.

international dark sky week michigan

Credit: Brian Lauer

April 13-18 is International Dark Sky Week.

Several Michigan state parks will remain open late for night sky viewing during the week. Some parks will host special astronomy events.

Participating parks include Port Crescent State Park in the Thumb.

 

3 – Biodegradable plastics are better than regular plastics, right?

Not really, according to a study by Michigan State University researchers.

Some water bottles and other plastics are dubbed as biodegradeable. But they don’t break down in the environment much faster than plastics that don’t contain additives.

According to Chemical & Engineering News, plastics labeled as LDPE and PET can remain in a landfill for years, so some manufacturers include additives to help the plastics disintegrate faster.

The MSU researchers designed a study to see if the materials performed as promised. Among the findings: After three years of soil burial, plastic samples with additives did not show any greater physical degradation than samples without them.

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

Follow me @jeffkart on Twitter.

Credit: Jesse Wagstaff

Credit: Jesse Wagstaff

 

 

The Detroit Lions Won’t Win the Great Lakes Bowl, But Water Levels Will Flood Beaches

For Friday, Nov. 28, 2014

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/xvn0qcgss4o9ezp/11-28-2014-mrgreatlakes.mp3]

1 – Registration is open for Great Lakes Bowl.

The Great Lakes Bowl is part of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl, an academic competition where teams of high school students compete for the regional and national title.

The matches feature quiz-bowl style rounds and challenge questions that test a team’s ocean and Great Lakes knowledge.

The questions focus on math and science related to biology, chemistry, geology, physics, technology, history and economics.

Regional competitions are held throughout the nation in February and March.

The next Great Lakes Bowl is set for Feb. 7 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The national competition is in April in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

The Great Lakes Bowl will award cash, trophies, medals and other prizes to top finishers.

There’s a limit of 16 teams, approved on a first-come, first-served basis. The deadline is Dec. 19.

The last bowl featured schools from around the state, including Standish-Sterling Central High School in Standish. The first-place trophy went to a team from Greenhills School in Ann Arbor, which placed sixth nationally. The national champions were from Boise High School in Idaho.


2 – How will lake level changes affect a shoreline? You can see visualizations for the Saginaw Bay area and other parts of Michigan using a Lake Level Viewer from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

pinconning great lakes water levels noaa viewer

High water levels in Pinconning, Michigan. Via the Lake Level Viewer.

The tool is intended to help communities along the U.S. Great Lakes plan for, and adapt to, climate change and changes in lake water levels.

You can use it to zoom in on places like Pinconning, and see how the area would be affected by changes in water levels.

You can compare the levels ranging from zero to six feet above and below average lake level.

The amount of  beach and other land under water quickly changes depending on the levels you choose.

More than 4,900 miles of U.S. shoreline ring the Great Lakes, of which 3,800 miles are currently mapped on the Lake Level Viewer.

The tool also covers areas in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

— Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

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Climate Action for Michigan, a Response to Great Lakes Debris

For June 12, 2014

 

1- How does a proposed federal Climate Action Plan affect Michigan?

michigan power plants

The location of fossil fuel fired power covered by the proposed Clean Power Plan.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a related Clean Power Plan to curb pollution from power plants. The plan would help cut carbon emissions from the power sector by 30 percent below 2005 levels.

According to an EPA analysis, the proposal would require Michigan to develop a plan to lower its carbon pollution to meet a carbon dioxide emission rate goal of 1,161 pounds per megawatt hour.

Right now, Michigan’s power sector emits about 535 more pounds per megawatt hour. The Midland Gogeneration Venture and the J.C. Weadock plant in Bay County would both be covered by the rule.

Michigan would be able to choose how to meet the goal through various measures.

Strategies include efficiency programs, improving power plant operations, and renewable energy standards. Michigan’s current renewable energy standard of 10 percent expires in 2015.

Power plants are the largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S. About half of Michigan’s energy comes from coal.

 

2 – Just in time for the summer, there’s an action plan for addressing debris in the Great Lakes.

We’re talking about plastics and litter, abandoned vessels, and old fishing gear.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released a first-of-its-kind Great Lakes Land-based Marine Debris Action Plan.

The Plan focuses on debris generated on land, which is often blown, swept, or washed out into the lakes.

The action part involves work that partners will undertake in the next five years, through 2019.

One objective is to remove 200 tons of land-based marine debris from Great Lakes environments.

Backers say there’s a role for everyone in the plan, from the citizen who picks up litter from beaches and watersheds; to organizations that support a wide range of activities like cleanup, research, education, and outreach.

— Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

 

Climate Change in the Great Lakes, Protecting Children’s Health, and Fighting Mussels with Algae

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/s8ffqkq1nm5kj3e/5-16-14-mrgreatlakes.mp3]

For Friday, May 16, 2014

1 – Climate change will heighten ongoing risks to the Great Lakes, according to a new National Climate Assessment.

climate change great lakes midwest

Cover of the National Climate Assessment.

The assessment is a product of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, which was established by Presidential Initiative in 1989.

The latest report says that in the Midwest, longer growing seasons and rising carbon dioxide levels will increase yields of some crops. However, those benefits will be offset by extreme weather events. In the long term, we can expect decreased agricultural productivity.

Per capita emissions of greenhouse gases in the Midwest are more than 20 percent higher than the national average. Extreme rainfall events and flooding have increased in the last 100 years. These trends are expected to continue, causing erosion, declining water quality, and negative impacts on transportation, agriculture, human health, and infrastructure.

For the Great Lakes, the effects include changes in the range and distribution of certain fish species.

What’s to be done? The report says planning for adaptation – to address and prepare for impacts – and mitigation – to reduce future climate change – is becoming more widespread. But, “current efforts are insufficient to avoid increasingly negative social, environmental, and economic consequences.”

2 – Protecting children from environmental health hazards is the goal of new Children’s Environmental Health “wiki.”

The “wiki,” an online database, was recently launched by the Michigan Network for Children’s Environmental Health and the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor.

The Network and the Center developed the wiki as a platform for people interested in sharing research that addresses links between health problems and environmental exposures, along with related reports, policy activity and recommendations. It’s been a two-year project.

The site will be monitored by experts to assure that the information presented is based on well-referenced scientific evidence.

The wiki is organized around critical child health issues including respiratory health, asthma and cancer.

The Network and Center are inviting the research community, parents, advocates and others to join the community of people contributing to the database.

An introduction is here.

3 – Scientists at Wayne State University are researching how algae might help disrupt reproduction of zebra and quagga mussels in the Great Lakes.

Collecting quagga mussels. Credit: USFWS.

Collecting quagga mussels. Credit: USFWS.

Preliminary research indicates that algae produce chemicals that may inhibit spawning in the invasive mussels.

Researchers are trying to identify chemical cues released by algae, and determine how those could be used to develop a control strategy.

Such an ecological strategy would be a cleaner alternative to attacking the mussels with toxic chemicals.

Zebra and quagga mussels have caused widespread damage to the lakes since arriving in the 1980s in ballast tanks of oceangoing ships.

The mussels deprive fish of food, crowd out native mussels and clog water intake pipes.

Via AP

– Mr. Great Lakes, as heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

 

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