March 26, 2013
I’d like to offer an apology of sorts for this photo. It goes like this: “I’m really, really sorry that I sometimes have to blog photos of the ugly things that threaten what’s beautiful in Michigan. I wish I didn’t have such a good reason to!”
Michigan has only the tiniest sliver of Lake Erie shoreline, so little that we sometimes forget that it is one of the lakes that define our Great Lakes State. Lake Erie served once at the canary in the coal mine for pollution of the Great Lakes, and it may once again be sounding a warning call. A recent front page of the New York Times featured scary news about algae blooms on Lake Erie:
For those who live and play on the shores of Lake Erie, the spring rains that will begin falling here soon are less a blessing than a portent. They could threaten the very future of the lake itself.
Lake Erie is sick. A thick and growing coat of toxic algae appears each summer, so vast that in 2011 it covered a sixth of its waters, contributing to an expanding dead zone on its bottom, reducing fish populations, fouling beaches and crippling a tourism industry that generates more than $10 billion in revenue annually.
…Dead algae sink to the lake bed, where bacteria that decompose the algae consume most of the oxygen. In central Lake Erie, a dead zone now covers up to a third of the entire lake bottom in bad years.
“The fact that it’s bigger and longer in duration is a bad thing,” said Peter Richards, a senior research scientist at the National Center for Water Quality Research at Heidelberg University in Ohio. “Fish that like to live in cold bottom waters have to move up in the thermocline, where it’s too warm for them. They get eaten, and that tends to decrease the growth rates of a lot of the fish.”
Read on for a whole lot more including how farming practices are intersecting with invasive zebra mussels and climate change to magnify the dangers.
More Lake Erie on Michigan in Pictures.
January 18, 2013
The Great Lakes Echo reports that:
The map, known as the Great Lakes Surface Environmental Analysis, is a composite of data taken from NOAA satellites orbiting the earth’s poles and radar scans of the lakes by the National Ice Center. The resulting image shows surface water temperature and ice coverage, important data for region scientists, fishermen and boaters. The map’s data is updated daily.
“Previously, the lowest ice coverage year was 2002,” CoastWatch manager George Leshkevich said. “2012 came very close to 2002, and this year is looking very similar to last year.”
Lack of ice cover leads to increased water evaporation, a serious concern in light of already-low lake levels.
You can read more about last year’s ice cover and impacts on Absolute Michigan.
More winter wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures!
July 24, 2012
The Great Lakes Echo tipped me off to the new History Channel series Great Lakes Warriors. The show follows five captains battling winter storms on the Great Lakes as they break up ice, tow barges into port and try to stay alive. The second episode airs at 10:00 PM on Thursday, and the History Channel will rebroadcast the first episode, “The Lethal Season,” at 11:00 PM tonight. You can also watch it online at the History Channel.
More boats on Michigan in Pictures.
July 17, 2012
The Great Lakes Echo highlighted a really cool realtime map of Great Lakes surface currents that can really help keep you safe whether you’re swimming, boating, surfing or stand-up paddleboarding. It might even help you find a fish or two!
October 12, 2011
Invasive species, pollution, diversion – the threats facing the Great Lakes are legion.
This week (October 11-14) is Great Lakes Week, a partnership to improve the places around the Great Lakes basin basin where people live, work, learn and play. This week’s activities, meetings and conferences bring representatives of the U.S. and Canadian governments together in Detroit along with a broad coalition of public and private groups to highlight efforts to implement solutions for the lakes’ most pressing problems. It’s one of the most wide-ranging Great Lakes summits in history and you can watch it LIVE today starting at noon through Friday on Absolute Michigan or at greatlakesnow.org.
April 22, 2011
I thought this shot from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center was a perfect image, and it’s a great lead-in to their Earth Day 2011 slideshow, which looks at almost 40 years of Landsat images. NASA says:
Launched in 1972, the Landsat program is the longest continuous global record of the Earth’s surface. It continues to deliver both visually stunning and scientifically valuable images of our changing planet, allowing us to plan for the future of Earth’s precious resources.
March 9, 2011
You can see it bigger in his Holga slideshow.
Many more Holga camera shots – including another one from this location by Matt – on Michigan in Pictures!
February 25, 2011
The Wall Street Journal reports:
An analysis by Michigan Sea Grant at the University of Michigan says more than 1.5 million U.S. jobs and $62 billion in annual wages are linked directly to the Great Lakes.
The study was released Thursday. It says Michigan has 525,886 jobs connected to the Great Lakes, more than any other state. Illinois ranks second with 380,786, followed by Ohio with 178,621.
Most of the jobs are in manufacturing. Others are in tourism and recreation, shipping, agriculture and other sectors of the economy.
Jim Diana, director of Michigan Sea Grant, says the study illustrates that protecting the lakes is crucial to attracting and retaining businesses and jobs.
That’s a lot of jobs … and at an estimated $62 billion in wages, it’s a very compelling argument for Michigan to take a leadership role in protecting the Great Lakes. Here’s the news release from Sea Grant and the PDF of the Great Lakes Jobs Report.
About the photo Nina writes On the shore of Lake Michigan: Cold sand and a layer of ice. In the distance, snow, ice, whitecaps on the beautiful and temperamental lake, and a cloud-filled sky. Check it out background big and in her Lake Michigan slideshow.
November 8, 2010
“No lake master can recall in all his experience a storm of such unprecedented violence with such rapid changes in the direction of the wind and its gusts of such fearful speed! Storms ordinarily of that velocity do not last over four or five hours, but this storm raged for sixteen hours continuously at an average velocity of sixty miles per hour, with frequent spurts of seventy and over.
Obviously, with a wind of such long duration, the seas that were made were such that the lakes are not ordinarily acquainted with. The testimony of masters is that the waves were at least 35 feet high and followed each other in quick succession, three waves ordinarily coming one right after the other.
~Report from the Lake Carriers Association in the wake of the Great Lakes “White Hurricane”
97 years ago the Great Lakes region reeled under the deadliest storm in its history. Known as the “Big Blow” and the “Freshwater Fury”, was a blizzard with hurricane-force winds that devastated the Great Lakes Basin in the Midwestern United States and the Canadian province of Ontario from November 7 through November 10, 1913. The report above comes from an excellent article on the weather science behind the 1913 storm from NOAA Weather Historian William R. Deedler. You can also read about the storm on Wikipedia and check out Freshwater Fury on Absolute Michigan that includes some videos about the storm and a slideshow of the damage it wrought.
September 15, 2010
“In terms of the whole food web, I don’t think there’s any question that zebra and quagga mussels have had the largest impact on the biological communities of the Great Lakes”
~Tom Nalepa, Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory
Today’s villain in our Michigan Invasive Species series are Zebra Mussels & Quagga Mussels. That feature on Absolute Michigan goes in depth about who they are and what they do so I won’t go on and on here except to say that as someone who walks the beaches of Lake Michigan often, there’s few things that make me sadder or madder than these little bastards. They’ve trashed the food chain, spawned all manner of nasty plants & algae and they slice up your feet.
This stretch of beach on South Manitou Island was once filled with sugary white sand. Today, the beach is covered in razor sharp zebra mussel shells. I knelt to take then photo, and when I stood, my knee was bleeding in 3 places.