The rise and fall of water levels in the Great Lakes attributed to 'climate change'

Issues and Insights:
Lake Erie and Lake Superior — two of the five that make up the Great Lakes — broke records for water levels this May. Lakes Michigan and Huron could follow suit.

Naturally, climate change is getting the blame. “We are undoubtedly observing the effects of a warming climate in the Great Lakes,” says Richard Rood, a University of Michigan climate scientist.

But just a few years ago, climate scientists were insisting that a warming climate would cause water levels to decline.

In 2008, Science Daily reported on a study that attributed the decline in Great Lakes water levels to global warming. The researchers who conducted the study said that the drop “raised concern because the declines are consistent with many climate change predictions.”

In 2009, Columbia University’s Earth Institute informed us that “most climate models suggest that we may see declines in lake levels over the next 100 years; one suggests that we may see declines of up to 8.2 feet.”

In 2011, the Union of Concern Scientists said that “scientists expect water levels in the Great Lakes to drop in both summer and winter, with the greatest declines occurring in Lakes Huron and Michigan.”

In 2013, the Natural Resources Defense Council said that “it’s no secret that, partially due to climate change, the water levels in the Great Lakes are getting very low.”

That same year, Think Progress reported that “Several different climate models for the Great Lakes region all predict that lake levels will decline over the next century.”

Since the Great Lakes account for 21% of the world’s surface fresh water, these stories were all wrapped in doom-and-gloom scenarios about the impact on drinking water, shipping, recreation, and so on.

The very next year, however, water levels started rising.

So what are scientists saying now? Simple. They’re now claiming that the fall and rise of Great Lakes’ water levels are due to climate change.
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The truth, of course, is that water levels in the Great Lakes vary over time. And, as a matter of fact, they varied far more in the past than they do now. A U.S. Geological Survey notes that “prehistoric levels exceed modern-day fluctuations.”
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Models are basically projections.  When the predicted events are not realized it is because one or more of their assumptions were invalid.  The failure of climate scientist to identify which of their assumptions was invalid should cast doubt on the science itself.

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