Month: January 2019

Next Steps for North Harbour – February 5th – 7pm

A special meeting regarding the next steps forward for cleanup of contamination in the north portion of Thunder Bay Harbour will be presented at 7 p.m., February 5th, in the Faculty Lounge at Lakehead University.

Roger Santiago (Environment and Climate Change Canada) and Tera Yochim Hope (Transport Canada) of the North Harbour Steering Committee will be presenting on the next steps forward for remediation of the area commonly called the North Harbour. This is a public event and all are welcome to attend. Evening parking is free of charge.

The Basics:

  • The area of highest contamination is just over 50 acres in size.
  • The area in question is located in the harbour adjacent to the former Cascades mill (just east of the mouth of the Current River).
  • The main contaminant of concern is mercury.

Important Information:

For more information contact Samuel Pegg, Remedial Action Plan Coordinator at spegg1@lakeheadu.ca or 807-343-8514.

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January 23rd: Park Point Public Meeting

The location of the 6 p.m., January 23rd public meeting is the Lafayette Community Recreation Centre, 3026 Minnesota Ave., Duluth, MN.

The public is invited to an information meeting hosted by the City of Duluth, with speakers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, to learn about proposed plans for dredging the harbor and placement of the materials for beach nourishment near Wisconsin Entry.

The meeting will take place on:

6:00 to 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Lafayette Community Recreation Centre, 3026 Minnesota Avenue

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will discuss their 2019 plans for dredging the Duluth-Superior Harbor navigational channel and placing the clean sediment along Minnesota Point near the Wisconsin Entry as a means to temporarily protect the beach against shore erosion. Following the presentation there will be an opportunity to ask questions about the proposed project. Staff from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MN Pollution Control Agency and the City will be available to help address questions.

Access to the building is by way of the ramp due to icy conditions; however, the lower door in the front of the building will also be open. The meeting is in the upper level.

For more information contact Diane Desotelle, Natural Resources Coordinator at ddesotelle@duluthmn.gov or 218-730-4329

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https://governmentshutdown.noaa.gov

You won’t find any information about Lake Superior ice cover if you visit the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website originally set up for this purpose. The above “screen grab” from the NOAA page shows that only information about the government shutdown is provided. Click here to go to the NOAA Great Lakes ice cover page.

NOAA Ice Info Unavailable

Looking for information about Great Lakes ice cover on Infosuperior? Simple. Hit the “Tools” tab and the “Lake Research Data” link in the dropdown should take you to the “Animated View of Historic Ice Cover” that compares present ice conditions to previous years…

That’s where the trouble starts. The NOAA site providing ice conditions automatically reroutes to “governmentshutdown.noaa.gov.” Instead of being able to access ice conditions on Lake Superior, you will find a notice to federal employees about unemployment insurance.

Searching Google for “Great Lakes Ice Cover” doesn’t help much. The top several search results say that they provide relevant information, but a quick try shows that every single one leads to “governmentshutdown.noaa.gov.”

Superior, just like all but one of the other Great Lakes, is a binational body of water and there is interest in ice cover on both sides of the border. Although the NOAA info is not accessible at this time, the Canadian side does offer some information on Great Lakes ice cover.

Canadian “Ice Forecast”

A Canadian site (weather.gc.ca) provides “Ice Forecasts for the Great Lakes” issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada. Rather than the satellite photos accessible through NOAA, the Canadian information is in textual format. For example the January 6th forecast for Lake Superior runs as follows:

Western Lake Superior

Open water except 3 tenths new lake ice including 1 tenth thin lake ice along parts of the shore. Nine tenths plus medium lake ice including four tenths thick lake ice in Black Bay and Nipigon Bay.

Eastern Lake Superior

Open water except eight tenths new lake ice along parts of the shore.

Whitefish Bay

Open water except eight tenths new lake ice including three tenths thin lake ice along parts of the shore.

Satellite photos normally available through NOAA would complete the picture on Great Lakes ice cover, providing a very robust suite of visual information. Until the U.S. Government shutdown is over, both Americans and Canadians may have less than a complete picture of Great Lakes ice cover.

Broader Shutdown Impacts Include National Parks

Eight hundred thousand federal workers are bearing the brunt of the shutdown, but impacts have rippled across the economy, from the New York Stock Exchange to national parks:

  • Mortgage applications are delayed while the shutdown continues.
  • Publicly traded companies are unable to get approval to raise capital.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission, responsible for protecting investors, has suspended all investigations. Additionally, they are suspending review of stock offerings to raise cash and company filings for mergers and acquisitions.
  • One third of national parks are completely closed and the National Parks Conservation Association estimates that $400 000 per day in entrance fees is being lost.
  • Gates at some national parks are open, but few, if any, staff are on hand to protect park assets.
  • The shutdown’s impacts vary from park to park and some parks, which initially remained open, have been closed due to unplowed and snow covered roads, overflowing toilet facilities, human excrement on the ground around camping areas, and other health and safety concerns.
During winters when ice conditions permit, thousands of people visit the Ice Caves at Apostles Islands National Lakeshore on Wisconsin’s Lake Superior shore.

U.S. National Parks on Lake Superior

Websites for all of the U.S. National Parks on Lake Superior have front page “disclaimers” about the shutdown and include language like, “there will be no National Park Service-provided visitor services, such as restrooms, trash collection, facilities, or road maintenance.” The U.S. National Parks Service manages the following sites on Lake Superior:

Additionally, a research study set up to determine how wolves are faring after recently being relocated to Isle Royale may be called off. A statement posted January 6th on the Wolves and Moose of Isle Royale Facebook page states that, “It is our present understanding that the 61st Winter Study of Wolves and Moose in Isle Royale National Park will not be allowed during the partial shutdown of the Federal government.”

Links: 


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Little Streams Add Up for Michigan Technological University Researchers

Kama Creek
Kama Creek, pictured above, is one of the smaller tributaries entering Lake Superior. (Photo: J. Bailey/Infosuperior.com)

Researchers at Michigan Technological University have discovered that the number of small tributaries entering Lake Superior is probably much greater than anyone has previously estimated, and their contributions to the lake ecology and biochemistry is mostly unknown.

Full Technical Paper: Of Small Streams and Great Lakes: Integrating Tributaries to Understand the Ecology and Biogeochemistry of Lake Superior

Head researcher Amy Marcarelli has been spreading the word about this research, which was published in the Journal of the American Water Resources Association. Check out the links below to get a peak into what interested researchers about the smaller tributaries and how they are measuring stream impacts on Lake Superior ecology and biochemistry, plus what plans are in store for the future of this research topic.

LINKS

WTIP North Shore Community Radio: New study focuses on smaller streams near Lake Superior

Great Lakes Echo: Small streams have large impact on big lake


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How Well Do We Know Lake Superior as an Indicator of Climate Change?

Ye et al. (2018) used a Finite Volume Community Ocean Model (FVCOM) to model lake temperature while accounting for 3D variations in topography. (Source: Ye et al. 2018)

Recent Study Models Parameters Influencing Lake Superior Temperatures

As the climate changes and we look to our environment for clues about the nature of those changes, it becomes important to understand what we measure and just how much it can tell us. With this in mind, researchers from Michigan Technology University’s Great Lakes Research Center and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in Houghton, Michigan, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s (NOAA) Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan, provide some interesting insights into how water mixing in lake superior impacts near-surface temperatures and ice formation.


Changes in lake stratification (top: a,b) and temperature gradient (bottom: c,d) were visible between a modelled case where mixing was strong (left) and a modelled case where mixing was weaker (right). (Source: Ye et al. 2018)

The Trouble with Measuring Lake Superior Heat Content

As the authors state, the Laurentian Great Lakes are of great interest to researchers because they are potential indicators for climate change. Most studies using Lake Superior as a climate change indicator try to determine how much the lake temperature is increasing by inferring total heat content from lake surface temperatures, collected from the lakes extensive array of offshore buoys; however, it turns out that lake surface temperatures may not be accurately portraying the lake’s total heat content. Through the use of 3D hydrodynamic modelling of Lake Superior, Ye and others (2018) found that changes in lake surface temperature may not reflect the overall heat content of the lake because vertical mixing can have a major effect on how much the lake surface temperature changes relative to total heat content.


To read the full research article click here: Impact of Water Mixing and Ice Formation on the Warming of Lake Superior: A Model-guided Mechanism Study by Xinyu Ye, Eric J. Anderson, Philip Y. Chu, Chenfu Huang and Pengfei Xue (2018)


In the modelled case where mixing was weaker (right) lake ice coverage increased much more rapidly during the freezing period. (Source: Ye et al. 2018)

Mixing-up Surface Temperature and Total Heat Content

Ye and others (2018) focused on how vertical mixing influences lake stratification and consequently how efficiently energy is transferred between warmer and colder layers in the water column. The study ran two cases to examine vertical mixing, one where mixing was strong and another where it was weaker. When mixing was weaker, heat transfer was not as efficient during the lake stratification period in Fall, and resulted in a lower lake surface temperature than the strong mixing case where more total heat was lost. Interestingly, the model showed that ice formation was quicker and more extensive in the weak mixing case, where the lake was overall warmer, because of this lower lake surface temperature. Ye and others (2018) also looked at Ice Albedo (the effect of reduced absorption of the suns radiation due to the reflectivity of ice and snow) and determined that due to the ice’s seasonal nature, albedo was a minor contributor to lake heat and ice formation with only a minor impact in the ice melting period when the albedo affect is stronger.


In modelled cases focusing on Ice Albedo as a parameter for Lake Superior ice coverage, very little impact was made on ice formation and only minor impact was visible during ice melting. When Ice Albedo was set higher, melting took longer (left) (Source: Ye et al. 2018).

This study suggests that lake heat content measured from greater depths would result in a better indication of lake warming caused by climate change. The authors also show that 3D modelling can be a valuable tool to understand how different parameters contribute to the changes observed in a dynamic environment like Lake Superior.


 Reference


Ye, Xinyu, et al. “Impact of Water Mixing and Ice Formation on the Warming of Lake Superior: A Model‐guided Mechanism Study.” Limnology and Oceanography (2018).


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Great Lakes Guide: All your Great Lakes Activities on One Site

This beautiful new website aims to get people out and engaging with the beautiful Great Lakes region. Click the image to visit the home page pictured here.

Engaging and Inspiring


If you live in the Laurentian Great Lakes region, you know that these environments are host to a plethora of potential adventures and activities. Now you can find information for many of these activities and events in one place. The Great Lakes Guide website, created with funding from the Government of Ontario, has the lowdown on what is happening in and around the Great Lakes watershed. The website is also partnered with the Watermark Project, with quotes from peoples’ stories about their connection to these waters scattered throughout the website.

The Home page of the Great Lakes Guide website features beautiful images and a short video to inspire adventure and engagement with the Great Lakes. Scroll down to find the Editor’s Pick of articles for the day, Nearby destinations, Suggestions for things to do and destinations that have been recommended by Great Lakes Guide users.

Become a Great Lakes Guide User

If you would like to become a Great Lakes Guide user, create an account using your email address by clicking on the “login/sign up” link next to the search bar on the top right hand corner of the page. Users can save destinations they have visited, want to visit and recommend visiting. Once logged in, click on your email that appears next to the “logout” link to access your profile, which provides a quick view of how many places you have visited and how many you have added to your wishlist alongside a list of recommended destinations. In the sidebar on the left handside of the page, click on “My Lists” for a more detailed overview of you “Wishlist”, “Places I’ve Visited” and “Places I Recommend”. Return to the home page by clicking on “Home”.


Great Lakes Guide users can save places they have been, recommend or wish to visit by setting up a Great Lakes Guide profile with email. Screenshot from Great Lakes Guide Website.

What Will I Find Here?


A small menu at the top of the home page features the following:

  • What to do: Water and Land sports and activities including everything from camping to kitesurfuing link to dedicated pages with related articles, tips, featured destinations and an associated interactive map showing the location of those destinations.
  • Meet the Greats: Stats, significance, history, information about environmental protection, regional economies, geography and fun facts for the Great Lakes as a whole and dedicated pages for each lake and the St. Lawrence River are available through a dropdown menu.
  • Ideas: Seasonal activity suggestions and accompanying articles.
  • Explore the Map: If you want to find out what is available at a specific location click here for the interactive map. You can Filter for beaches, parks and/or points of interest; or if you know the postal code for your destination, type that in and hit “enter” to zero in on what would be nearby.

This great interactive map allows users to choose destinations visually. Click the image to Explore!

Connect with the Great Lakes Guide


This website is fairly new and looking for feedback to make their site useful for those who visit so be sure to let them know what you think by filling out their survey linked in the banner at the top of the home page. A beautiful modern website with tips and information for Great Lakes adventures is waiting for you! You can follow the Great Lakes Guide on Instagram @greatlakesguide, Twitter @GL_Guide and Facebook @GreatLakesGuide.


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Sustain Our Great Lakes Restoration Funding Available

Restoring and enhancing Coastal Wetland Habitat is a funding priority of the Sustain Our Great Lakes Program.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has announced that the Sustain Our Great Lakes (SOGL) program is soliciting proposals to benefit fish, wildlife, habitat and water quality in the Great Lakes basin. The program will award grants in 2019 to improve and enhance three key areas: 1) stream and riparian habitat; 2) coastal wetland habitat; and 3) water quality in the Great Lakes and its tributaries. Approximately $8.2 million is expected to be available for grant awards in 2019.

Projects must take place in the Great Lakes Watershed. Most of the funding will go towards U.S. projects, but up to $200 000 will go towards projects in Canada.

Funding Priorities 

  • Restoring and Enhancing Stream and Riparian Habitat 
  • Restoring and Enhancing Coastal Wetland Habitat 
  • Expanding Green Stormwater Infrastructure in Great Lakes Communities
  • Maintaining and Enhancing Benefits of Habitat Restoration through Invasive Species Control 

Pre-Proposal Due Date: Tuesday, February 12, 2019 by 11:59 PM Eastern Time

Full Proposal Due Date: Thursday, April 18, 2019 by 11:59 PM Eastern Time

Full Information Including Application Form

Webinar Providing Guidance For Funding Applicants January 16, 2019 at 11:00 AM Eastern Time/10:00 AM Central Time
https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1816432087422287618

This funding program is administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) in partnership with ArcelorMittalU.S. Environmental Protection AgencyU.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceU.S. Forest ServiceNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Significant program funding is provided by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), a federal program designed to protect, restore and enhance the Great Lakes ecosystem.


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