Climatic Change

, Volume 120, Issue 4, pp 697–711 | Cite as

Coasts, water levels, and climate change: A Great Lakes perspective

  • Andrew D. Gronewold
  • Vincent Fortin
  • Brent Lofgren
  • Anne Clites
  • Craig A. Stow
  • Frank Quinn
Article

Abstract

The North American Laurentian Great Lakes hold nearly 20 % of the earth’s unfrozen fresh surface water and have a length of coastline, and a coastal population, comparable to frequently-studied marine coasts. The surface water elevations of the Great Lakes, in particular, are an ideal metric for understanding impacts of climate change on large hydrologic systems, and for assessing adaption measures for absorbing those impacts. In light of the importance of the Great Lakes to the North American and global economies, the Great Lakes and the surrounding region also serve as an important benchmark for hydroclimate research, and offer an example of successful adaptive management under changing climate conditions. Here, we communicate some of the important lessons to be learned from the Great Lakes by examining how the coastline, water level, and water budget dynamics of the Great Lakes relate to other large coastal systems, along with implications for water resource management strategies and climate scenario-derived projections of future conditions. This improved understanding fills a critical gap in freshwater and marine global coastal research.

References

  1. Anderson EJ, Schwab DJ, Lang GA (2010) Real-time hydraulic and hydrodynamic model of the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, Detroit River system. J Hydraul Eng 136(8):507–518CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Angel J, Kunkel K (2010) The response of Great Lakes water levels to future climate scenarios with an emphasis on Lake Michigan-Huron. J Great Lakes Res 36:51–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Assel R, Quinn F, Sellinger C (2004) Hydroclimatic factors of the recent record drop in Laurentian Great Lakes water levels. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 85(8):1143–1151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Augustine J, Woodley W, Scott R, Changnon S (1994) Using geosynchronous satellite imagery to estimate summer-season rainfall over the Great Lakes. J Great Lakes Res 20(4):683–700CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Austin JA, Colman SM (2007) Lake Superior summer water temperatures are increasing more rapidly than regional air temperatures: a positive ice-albedo feedback. Geophys Res Lett 34(6):L06604CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bruce JP (1984) Great Lakes levels and flows: past and future. J Great Lakes Res 10(2):126–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bunch J (1970) Mission of US Lake survey. Journal of the Surveying and Mapping Division 96(2):181–189Google Scholar
  8. Buttle J, Muir T, Frain J (2004) Economic impacts of climate change on the Canadian Great Lakes hydro-electric power producers: a supply analysis. Can Water Resour J 29(2):89–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Changnon S (1993) Changes in climate and levels of Lake Michigan: shoreline impacts at Chicago. Clim Chang 23(3):213–230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cohen SJ (1986) Impacts of CO2-induced climatic change on water resources in the Great Lakes basin. Clim Chang 8(2):135–153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Coordinating Committee on Great Lakes Basic Hydraulic and Hydrologic Data (1978) History of water level gauges. Upper Great Lakes and the St. Clair - Detroit Rivers. Tech. rep., Chicago, IL and Cornwall, OntarioGoogle Scholar
  12. Croley T (1989) Verifiable evaporation modeling on the Laurentian Great Lakes. Water Resour Res 25(5):781–792CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Croley T (1990) Laurentian Great Lakes double-CO2 climate change hydrological impacts. Clim Chang 17(1):27–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Croley T (1992) Long-term heat storage in the Great Lakes. Water Resour Res 28(1):69–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Croley T (2002) Large basin runoff model, chap 17. In: Singh V, Frevert D, Meyer S (eds) Mathematical models of large watershed hydrology, pp 717–770Google Scholar
  16. Croley T (2003) Weighted-climate parametric hydrologic forecasting. J Hydrol Eng 8:171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Croley T, Assel R (1994) A one-dimensional ice thermodynamics model for the Laurentian Great Lakes. Water Resour Res 30(3):625–639CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Croley T, Hunter T (1994) Great Lakes monthly hydrologic data: Technical Memorandum 083. US Dept. of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Great Lakes Environmental Research LaboratoryGoogle Scholar
  19. Croley TE, Hartmann HC (1985) Resolving Thiessen polygons. J Hydrol 76(3–4):363–379CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Donner S (2012) Sea level rise and the ongoing Battle of Tarawa. Eos, Trans Am Geophys Union 93(17):169Google Scholar
  21. Ekman M (1999) Climate changes detected through the world’s longest sea level series. Global Planet Chang 21(4):215–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Field C, Mortsch L, Brklacich M, Forbes D, Kovacs P, Patz J, Running S, Scott M (2007) North America. In: Parry ML, Canziani OF, Palutikof JP, PJ van der Linden, Hanson CE (eds) Climate change 2007: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Contribution of working group II to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  23. Ghanbari R, Bravo H (2008) Coherence between atmospheric teleconnections, Great Lakes water levels, and regional climate. Adv Water Resour 31(10):1284–1298CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gronewold AD, Fortin V (2012) Advancing Great Lakes hydrological science through targeted binational collaborative research. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 93(12):1921–1925CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gronewold AD, Clites A, Hunter T, Stow C (2011) An appraisal of the Great Lakes advanced hydrologic prediction system. J Great Lakes Res 37:577–583Google Scholar
  26. Gronewold AD, Stow CA, Crooks JL, Hunter TS (2013) Quantifying parameter uncertainty and assessing the skill of exponential dispersion rainfall simulation models. Int J Climatol 33(3):746–757CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hanrahan J, Kravtsov S, Roebber P (2009) Quasi-periodic decadal cycles in levels of lakes Michigan and Huron. J Great Lakes Res 35(1):30–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hartmann HC (1990) Climate change impacts on Laurentian Great Lakes levels. Clim Chang 17(1):49–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hayhoe K, VanDorn J, Croley T, Schlegal N, Wuebbles D (2010) Regional climate change projections for Chicago and the US Great Lakes. J Great Lakes Res 36:7–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Herdendorf CE (1990) Distribution of the world’s large lakes. Springer-VerlagGoogle Scholar
  31. Hobbs B, Chao P, Venkatesh B (1997) Using decision analysis to include climate change in water resources decision making. Clim Chang 37(1):177–202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Holgate S, Woodworth P (2004) Evidence for enhanced coastal sea level rise during the 1990s. Geophys Res Lett 31(7):L07, 305Google Scholar
  33. Holgate SJ, Matthews A, Woodworth PL, Rickards LJ, Tamisiea ME, Bradshaw E, Foden PR, Gordon KM, Jevrejeva S, Pugh J (2012) New data systems and products at the permanent service for mean sea level. J Coast Res 29(3):493–504Google Scholar
  34. Holman K, Gronewold A, Notaro M, Zarrin A (2012) Improving historical precipitation estimates over the Lake Superior basin. Geophys Res Lett 39(3):L03, 405Google Scholar
  35. Keillor J (1990) Planning for a wider range of water levels along Great Lakes and ocean coasts. Coast Manag 18(1):91–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kerr R (2011) Vital details of global warming are eluding forecasters. Science 334(6053):173–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kutzbach JE, Williams JW, Vavrus SJ (2005) Simulated 21st century changes in regional water balance of the Great Lakes region and links to changes in global temperature and poleward moisture transport. Geophys Res Lett 32:L17, 707Google Scholar
  38. Lehner B, Döll P (2004) Development and validation of a global database of lakes, reservoirs and wetlands. J Hydrol 296(1):1–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lofgren B, Quinn F, Clites A, Assel R, Eberhardt A, Luukkonen C (2002) Evaluation of potential impacts on Great Lakes water resources based on climate scenarios of two GCMs. J Great Lakes Res 28(4):537–554CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lofgren BM, Hunter TS, Wilbarger J (2011) Effects of using air temperature as a proxy for potential evapotranspiration in climate change scenarios of Great Lakes basin hydrology. J Great Lakes Res 37(4):744–752CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lyons R, Kroll C, Scholz C (2010) An energy-balance hydrologic model for the Lake Malawi Rift Basin, East Africa. Glob Planet Chang 75(1–2):83–97Google Scholar
  42. Magnuson J, Webster K, Assel R, Bowser C, Dillon P, Eaton J, Evans H, Fee E, Hall R, Mortsch L, et al (1997) Potential effects of climate changes on aquatic systems: Laurentian Great Lakes and Precambrian Shield Region. Hydrol Process 11(8):825–871CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mainville A, Craymer M (2005) Present-day tilting of the Great Lakes region based on water level gauges. Geol Soc Am Bull 117(7–8):1070–1080CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Manabe S, Wetherald R, Milly P, Delworth T, Stouffer R (2004) Century-scale change in water availability: CO2-quadrupling experiment. Clim Chang 64(1):59–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Mesinger F, DiMego G, Kalnay E, Mitchell K, Shafran P, Ebisuzaki W, Jovic D, Woollen J, Rogers E, Berbery E, et al (2006) North American regional reanalysis. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 87(3):343–360CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Millerd F (2005) The economic impact of climate change on Canadian commercial navigation on the Great Lakes. Can Water Resour J 30(4):269–280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Millerd F (2011) The potential impacts of climate change on Great Lakes international shipping. Clim Chang 104:629–652CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Milly P, Dunne K (2011) On the hydrologic adjustment of climate-model projections: the potential pitfall of potential evapotranspiration. Earth Interact 15(1):1–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Milly P, Dunne K, Vecchia A (2005) Global pattern of trends in streamflow and water availability in a changing climate. Nature 438(7066):347–350CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Mortsch L (1998) Assessing the impact of climate change on the great lakes shoreline wetlands. Clim Chang 40(2):391–416CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Mortsch L, Hengeveld H, Lister M, Lofgren B, Quinn F, Slivitzky M, Wenger L (2000) Climate change impacts on the hydrology of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence system. Can Water Resour J 25(2):153–179Google Scholar
  52. Moulton RJ, Cuthbert DR (2000) Cumulative impacts/risk assessment of water removal or loss from the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River system. Can Water Resour J 25(2):181–208Google Scholar
  53. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (1975) The coastline of the United States. Tech. Rep. NOAA/PA 71046 (Rev. 1975)Google Scholar
  54. Nicholls RJ, Hoozemans FM, Marchand M (1999) Increasing flood risk and wetland losses due to global sea-level rise: regional and global analyses. Global Environ Chang 9:S69–S87Google Scholar
  55. Quinn F (1981) Secular changes in annual and seasonal Great Lakes precipitation, 1854–1979, and their implications for Great Lakes water resource studies. Water Resour Res 17(6):1619–1624CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Revenga C, Murray S, Abramovitz J, Hammond A, et al (1998) Watersheds of the world: ecological value and vulnerability. World Resources InstituteGoogle Scholar
  57. Schwab DJ, Bedford K (1994) Initial implementation of the Great Lakes forecasting system: a real-time system for predicting lake circulation and thermal structure. Water Pollut Res J Can 29(2–3):203–220Google Scholar
  58. Schwartz R, Deadman P, Scott D, Mortsch L (2004) Modeling the impacts of water level changes on a Great Lakes community. J Am Water Resour Assoc 40(3):647–662CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Sellinger CE, Stow CA, Lamon EC, Qian SS (2007) Recent water level declines in the Lake Michigan-Huron system. Environ Sci Technol 42(2):367–373Google Scholar
  60. Spence C, Blanken P, Hedstrom N, Fortin V, Wilson H (2011) Evaporation from Lake Superior: 2: spatial distribution and variability. J Great Lakes Res 37(4):717–724CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Stow CA, Lamon E, Kratz T, Sellinger C (2008) Lake level coherence supports common driver. Eos, Trans Am Geophys Union 89(41):389Google Scholar
  62. US Environmental Protection Agency, Government of Canada (1995) The Great Lakes: an environmental atlas and resource book. Great Lakes National Program Office, US Environmental Protection AgencyGoogle Scholar
  63. Wang J, Bai X, Leshkevich G, Colton M, Clites A, Lofgren B (2010) Severe ice cover on Great Lakes during winter 2008–2009. EOS 91(5):41–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Wang J, Bai X, Hu H, Clites A, Colton M, Lofgren B (2012) Temporal and spatial variability of Great Lakes ice cover, 1973–2010. J Clim 25:1318–1329. doi:10.1175/2011JCLI4066.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Watkins Jr D, Li H, Cowden J (2007) Adjustment of radar-based precipitation estimates for great lakes hydrologic modeling. J Hydrol Eng 12:298Google Scholar
  66. Willard DA, Bernhardt CE (2011) Impacts of past climate and sea level change on Everglades wetlands: placing a century of anthropogenic change into a late-Holocene context. Clim Chang 107(1–2):59–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Willis J, Church J (2012) Regional sea-level projection. Science 336(6081):550–551CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Wilson J (1977) Effect of Lake Ontario on precipitation. Mon Weather Rev 105:207–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Woodford A (1991) Charting the inland seas: a history of the US Lake Survey. Wayne State Univ PrGoogle Scholar
  70. Woodworth P (1999) High waters at Liverpool since 1768: the UK’s longest sea level record. Geophys Res Lett 26(11):1589–1592CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Zhang X, Church JA (2012) Sea level trends, interannual and decadal variability in the Pacific Ocean. Geophys Res Lett 39(21):L21701Google Scholar

Copyright information

© U.S. Government 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew D. Gronewold
    • 1
  • Vincent Fortin
    • 2
  • Brent Lofgren
    • 1
  • Anne Clites
    • 1
  • Craig A. Stow
    • 1
  • Frank Quinn
    • 1
  1. 1.NOAA, Great Lakes Environmental Research LaboratoryAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Environmental Numerical Weather Prediction Research Section, Meteorological Research DivisionEnvironment CanadaDorvalCanada

Personalised recommendations