CLEVELAND (TDB) -- Climate scientists have projected that Lake Erie could fall by more than three feet and lose about one-fifth its surface area over the next half century if the Earth heats up. Now there is word from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that the lake's depth is already running below statistical norms. Is it climate change? Nobody is speculating yet, but researchers tell The Daily Bellwether they are closely monitoring water levels.
The most recent Great Lakes Water Level Update issued by the Corps says Lake Erie is six inches under its long-term monthly water level average for August, and is eight inches lower than it was last year.
Can't blame drought -- precipitation in the Lake Erie basin in 2.06 inches more than average, or 106% of normally expected snow and rainfall. However, there was less precipitation to the north and the entire Great Lakes Basin is 2.36 inches short of average.
From the Corps' latest data (August 3):
"Currently, Lake Superior is 13 inches below its level of a year ago, while Lakes Michigan-Huron, St. Clair, Erie and Ontario are 6 to 9 inches lower than last year's levels, Lake Superior is predicted to rise 1 inch over the next 30 days. Lake Michigan-Huron is expected to decline two inches, while Lakes St. Clair, Erie and Ontario are expected to drop five inches over the next month. All of the lakes are forecasted to be below their water levels of a year ago during the next few months."
By December, Lake Erie could be some 15 to 20 inches below last year's water marks.
Check out data from the Corps HERE. Projections about the potential effects of climate change on Lake Erie, predicting that it could lost thousands of square miles of surface area, were made in an EPA report last year.