MSU conference explores need for greater international cooperation to protect vital global watersheds
What's going on in your neighborhood this month? Meet other people and learn together at recreational and educational events! Our new dynamic calendar is updated daily with current educational events.
The difference between the amount of water coming into a lake and the amount going out is the determining factor in whether the water level will rise, fall or remain stable. When several months of above-average precipitation occur with cooler, cloudy conditions that cause less evaporation, the levels gradually rise. Likewise, prolonged periods of lower-than-average precipitation and warmer temperatures typically result in lowering of water levels.
The recent decline of Great Lakes' water levels, now at lows not seen since the mid-1960s, is due mostly to evaporation during the warmer-than-usual temperatures of the past three years, a series of mild winters, and below-average snowpack in the Lake Superior basin.
Because the major factors affecting the water supply to the lakes--precipitation, evaporation and runoff--cannot be controlled or accurately predicted for more than a few weeks into the future, the influence of man-made regulation of lake levels is very limited. Nature has most of the control, adding water through snow and rain, and taking it away through evaporation.
Graphic: Lake Superior's south shore, April 2000.
Detailed Map: The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River system