Climate change impacts on Laurentian Great Lakes levels
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Scenarios of water supplies reflecting CO2-induced climatic change are used to determine potential impacts on levels of the Laurentian Great Lakes and likely water management policy implications. The water supplies are based on conceptual models that link climate change scenarios from general circulation models to estimates of basin runoff, overlake precipitation, and lake evaporation. The water supply components are used in conjunction with operational regulation plans and hydraulic routing models of outlet and connecting channel flows to estimate water levels on Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario. Three steady-state climate change scenarios, corresponding to modeling a doubling of atmospheric CO2, are compared to a steady-state simulation obtained with historical data representing an unchanged atmosphere. One transient climate change scenario, representing a modeled transition from present conditions to doubled CO2 concentrations, is compared to a transient simulation with historical data. The environmental, socioeconomic, and policy implications of the climate change effects modeled herein suggest that new paradigms in water management will be required to address the prospective increased allocation conflicts between users of the Great Lakes.
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