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Study: Great Lakes are warming twice as fast as the oceans

File photo courtesy: NASA

File photo courtesy: NASA


Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Thursday, December 17, 2015, 6:45 PM - A new study out of York University suggests the Great Lakes are warming more than twice as fast as the world's oceans.

“We found that ice–covered lakes, including Canadian lakes, are warming twice as fast as air temperatures and the North American Great Lakes are among the fastest warming lakes in the world,” study lead Sapna Sharma said in a statement.

“This can have profound effects on drinking water and the habitat of fish and other animals.”

Sharma's team predicts that algal blooms, which can pose a risk to aquatic life and humans in large amounts, will increase by 20 percent over the next century if the current warming rate continues.

Researchers analyzed annual data taken from 236 lakes over a period of 25 years. The information included manual lake measurements as well as satellite measurements of lake temperatures collected by NASA.

“While that’s a fraction of the world’s lakes, they contain more than half the world’s freshwater supply,” Sharma said.

The findings were announced Wednesday at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

CANADA WARMING UP FAST

In late November, a climate change briefing was presented to Canadian premiers. It suggested the country is warming at about twice the global rate.

Greg Flato, a senior research scientist with Environment Canada told the premiers the data backing the report is 'conclusive', according to the CBC.

Alain Bourque, the executive director at Ouranos, a consortium on regional climatology and adaptation to climate change, added that a global increase of 2C could translate into a change of up to 4C for Canada.

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"Warming is unequivocal and human influence on the climate system is clear. Impacts of a changing climate are already being felt, and they will increase with further warming," Flato said, according to the CBC.

"The science indicates that reducing greenhouse gases are what is needed in order to stabilize temperature at some level, and that the amount of CO2 emissions, there's a cumulative budget that you can emit in order to keep the global temperature below a certain value."

Global temperatures are steadily rising, contributing to melting glaciers and ocean acidification.

WHAT IS CLIMATE CHANGE?

When scientists refer to 'climate change', they're talking about a change in climatic norms.

In other words, warm climates could get even warmer and drier, or they could get colder and wetter.

While this occurs naturally, scientists say humans play a role as well.

Here's an explanation from The Weather Network's Chris St. Clair.

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