EPA Science Inventory

HISTORICAL SNOW AMOUNTS IN THE LAKE EFFECT REGION OF LAKE SUPERIOR: EVIDENCE OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE GREAT LAKES

Citation:

Jarnagin, S. T. HISTORICAL SNOW AMOUNTS IN THE LAKE EFFECT REGION OF LAKE SUPERIOR: EVIDENCE OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE GREAT LAKES. Presented at International Association for Great Lakes Research (IAGLR) 2001 Annual Meeting, Green Bay, WI, June 25, 2001.

Description:

Recent studies (Levitus et al., .2000) suggest a warming of the world ocean over the past 50 years. This could be occurring in the Great Lakes also but thermal measurements are lacking. Historical trends in natural phenomena, such as the duration of ice cover on lakes, provide indirect measurements of global warming. Long-term snowfall records exist for the Great -Lakes region. Since lake effect snow is a complex interaction e-vent between surface topography and the temperatures of the lake and the surrounding area, a geographic analysis, of historical trends in seasons snowfall and temperature could provide indirect evidence of trends in seasonal lake heat storage. This study compares historical records of temperature, precipitation, and snowfall in the Lake Superior region to explore this issue. Preliminary results suggest that seasonal snow amounts in. the lake effect region of Lake Superior have significantly increased while seasonal snow amounts outside the lake effect area have not. This suggests that an increasing heat storage trend could be occurring in Lake Superior.

Purpose/Objective:

Overarching Objectives and Links to Multi-year Planning

This research directly supports long-term goals established in ORD's multi-year research plans related to GPRA Goal 2 (Water Quality) and Long Term Goal WQ-2 Assessment of aquatic systems impairment. Relative to the GRPA Goal 2 Water Quality multi-year plan, this research will "provide tools to assess and diagnose impairment in aquatic systems and the sources of associated stressors" and "provide the tools to restore and protect aquatic ecosystems and to forecast the ecological, economic, and human health outcomes of alternative solutions" (Water Quality Long Term Research Goals 2 and 3).

Subtask 1 - Impervious Surface Evaluation

This subtask addresses the development of impervious surfaces estimators for local to regional scale assessments of watersheds and their landscape relationship to stream ecology. The amount of impervious surface area in a watershed is a key indicator of landscape change. As a single variable, it serves to integrate a number of concurrent interactions that directly influence a watershed's hydrology, stream chemical quality, and in-stream habitat. It is our working hypothesis that impervious surface area within a watershed, as an independently mapped predictor variable, can be used to generally track a range of watershed ecological parameters (e.g., NPS pollution, biological integrity, TMDLs) that are of concern to local, state and federal environmental managers. The specific objectives of this research are: 1) to quantitatively evaluate the varying remote sensing methods used in mapping impervious surfaces at multiple scales (local to regional), and 2) to relate the varying levels of impervious surface area in watersheds to the environmental condition of multiple water resource endpoints such as streamflow, temperature, and biota.



Subtask 2 -- Landscape Assessments and Evaluations of Best Management Practices: Watershed Demonstrations

Best Management Practices (BMP) encompass a range of strategies to reduce water pollution related to urban and agricultural activities. EPA, through Section 319(h) of the Clean Water Act [PL 92-500], provides grants to states to implement BMPs in areas with suspected or known water-quality problems. Grants for implementation of BMPs have not been tracked or monitored to document their effectiveness. Although effectiveness can be measured in many different ways, one straightforward but important measure is existence. Implementation of BMPs is a voluntary process and actual implementation is not always executed (Nowak 1992). The primary objective of this project is to assess the feasibility of using high-resolution aerial photography and other remotely sensed data to identify the existence of BMPs that were planned under the 319 program. An additional objective is to evaluate the effectives of BMPs implemented by examining monitoring data from about 5 sites in the OW National NPS monitoring system.

There are several potential benefits to determining the feasibility of using the aerial photography for identifying BMPs: 1) since BMP implementation is voluntary and some may not be implemented due to a variety of social and economic factors (Nowak 1992), remote detection of BMPs can provide data to estimate the ratio of BMPs implemented to BMPs planned; 2) remote detection of BMPs provides validation data that can be input into EPA's Grants Reporting and Tracking System (GRTS), and 3) remote monitoring of BMPs over time could be used to develop data on BMP lifespans, providing important data related to social- and cost-effectiveness.

Subtask 3 -- TMDL Non-point Source Assessment Tool

This subtask involves the development of a software tool to assess the potential risks of water bodies to exceed TMDL threshold values established by States. When completed, the tool will allow the user to evaluate watersheds over entire regions. The too

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (PRESENTATION/ABSTRACT)
Start Date: 06/25/2001
Completion Date: 06/25/2001
Record Last Revised: 06/06/2005
Record Created: 09/26/2003
Record Released: 09/26/2003
Record ID: 60034

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL EXPOSURE RESEARCH LAB

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES DIVISION

LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY BRANCH