Lake Michigan is warmer - and here are the impacts

The water at the deepest points of Lake Michigan is getting warmer, which can lead to more snow in cities that surround the lake.

Video Transcript

EMMY VICTOR: If you've ever stepped foot near Lake Michigan in the winter, you know one thing to be true.

- It's very cold. I tell you that.

EMMY VICTOR: A newly released study suggests that winter is shrinking in the Great Lakes region. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the water at the deepest points of Lake Michigan is warmer, a result of higher than usual air temperatures.

For the study, scientists pulled 30 years of data from these long thermometers placed in Lake Michigan. Every hour, water temperatures are being recorded from the bottom to the surface of the lake.

Last summer, Lake Michigan was 10 degrees above normal, taking the water longer to cool down in the winter. By the start of the year, only 3% of the Great Lakes were covered in ice.

JOEL BRAMMEIER: Ice can provide shelter for fish when they're looking for food and breeding grounds. Ice also can protect the shoreline from erosion during the winters.

EMMY VICTOR: Joel Brammeier, president and CEO of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, has looked over the study. He says the warmer water means more moisture in the air for lake effect snow to form. It can also have impacts on the region's water and food supply.

JOEL BRAMMEIER: Water pollution, when we have big algae blooms in the Great Lakes that can actually make drinking water toxic. Warmer water makes algae blooms happen more frequently. And so it can actually make drinking water quality worse. It provides better habitat for invasive species, fish and wildlife that we don't actually want in the Great Lakes.

EMMY VICTOR: Brammeier says more infrastructure that can prevent pollution and keep unwelcome species out is one way to protect Lake Michigan.

JOEL BRAMMEIER: We've got to get real about the fact that we're seeing more extreme storms in the Great Lakes. We're seeing erosion and changing water temperatures. There's ways we can adapt to that so the communities around the Great Lakes can stay healthy and keep the lakes healthy.

EMMY VICTOR: Healthy for those who live, work, and play along its shoreline. For AccuWeather, I'm Emmy Victor.