Today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune headlines: “Lake Superior is near record high and threatening shoreline.” The lake is within two inches of its highest recorded level, and the consequences are dire:
Wayne Jensen sat on his narrow strip of Lake Superior shoreline last month, listening to waves crash against his small cliff and soaking in the scent of woods near Port Wing, Wis., his frequent escape from the bustle of his home in Minneapolis.
Just then, he watched a piece of his paradise disappear. A chunk of land about 15 feet long and about 6 feet wide slid into the big lake, trees and all, as he sat nearby.
“I wanted to start crying. I’m watching this beautiful, pristine shoreline fall into the lake,” Jensen said. “I just stood there in awe.”
[I]f the gales of November come early, before the water level has a chance to go down as it typically does this time of year, the devastation could be widespread, Jensen and others worry.
Already, the high lake level is sinking fixed docks and causing problems as water seeps into homes on Duluth’s saturated sandy spit known as Park Point.
Why is Lake Superior’s water level so high? We’ve gotten a lot of rain and snow in recent years. But the Strib hints at a darker possibility:
“Is it climate change? Or is it just a cyclical thing?” Buck wondered aloud. “What can we do? What can we expect?”
But wait! Just a few short years ago, we were told that Lake Superior was drying up, as water levels were, for a while, below average. What caused the level of the Great Lakes to fall? Climate change, of course. And low levels, like high levels, are bad.
National Geographic: “Climate Change and Variability Drive Low Water Levels on the Great Lakes.”
The National Resources Defense Council: “Climate change is lowering Great Lakes water levels.”
It’s no secret that, partially due to climate change, the water levels in the Great Lakes are getting very low.
The U.N’s IPCC: “[T]he following lake level declines could occur: Lake Superior -0.2 to -0.5 m.”
Dick Durbin: “What we are seeing in global warming is the evaporation of our Great Lakes.”
Scientists at the Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [are] studying the interplay between low water levels, shrinking ice cover and warm water temperatures, Gronewold said. They have already concluded that climate change is playing a role in determining Great Lakes water levels.
In the world of climate “science,” there is no penalty for being wrong. It would be nice, however, if reporters were to notice now and then.