HOUGHTON – The Great Lakes are more like inland seas. From the cold depths of Lake Superior fisheries to the shallow algae blooms of Lake Erie, the bodies of water differ greatly from one another. Yet they are all part of one climate system.
Up until now, atmospheric models and hydrodynamic models have remained separate to a large extent in the region, with only a few attempts to loosely couple them. In a new study, published this week in the Journal of Climate (DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-16-0225.1), an integrated model brings together climate and water models.
The collaborative work brought together researchers from Michigan Technological University, Loyola Marymount University, LimnoTech and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. Pengfei Xue, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Michigan Tech, led the study through his work at the Great Lakes Research Center on campus.
“One of the important concepts in climate change, in addition to knowing the warming trend, is understanding that extreme events become more severe,” Xue says. “That is both a challenge and an important focus in regional climate modeling.”
To help understand climate change and other environmental issues, Xue and his team connected the dots between the air and water of the Great Lakes. The new model will be useful for climate predictions, habitat modeling for invasive species, oil spill mitigationand other environmental research.
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