Climatic Change

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 135-153

First online:

Impacts of CO2-induced climatic change on water resources in the Great Lakes Basin

  • Stewart J. CohenAffiliated withCanadian Climate Centre, Environment Canada

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Scenarios of CO2-induced climatic change, based on models produced by the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab (GFDL), were used to estimate future changes in water supply in the Great Lakes Basin. The major components of annual Net Basin Supply, surface runoff and lake evaporation, were estimated using the Thornthwaite water balance model and the mass transfer approach, respectively. Two scenarios were derived from each climatic change model, one based on present normal winds, the other assuming reduced wind speeds. A third scenario was derived from GFDL, using wind speeds generated by the GFDL model. Results varied from a decrease in Net Basin Supply of 28.9% for GISS-normal winds, to a decrease of 11.7% for GFDL-reduced wind speeds. All five scenarios projected decreases. These differences in projection will have to be considered when performing climate impact studies, since economic activities affected by lake levels would probably experience different impacts under these scenarios.