NBC Learn, the educational arm of NBC News, has produced a five-minute story, "Lake Temperatures," on the effect of global warming on the world's large lakes. The story is part of the Changing Planet series, which runs from January through April 2011 and explores the impact that climate change is having on our planet.
Jay Austin, Associate Professor of Physics and researcher for UMD's Large Lakes Observatory is featured in the story. UMD's research vessel Blue Heron also figures prominently in the piece.
NBC Learn is making the global resources of NBC News and their historic film and video archive available to teachers, students, schools and universities through this series.
In the video, Austin explains his team's research on this large, cold, and in many ways, understudied lake. They are investigating what makes large lakes like Superior warm one year and cool the next. Scientists know that climate change affects the temperature of such lakes, but Austin's research reveals that the warming is much greater than anyone expected. He states, "Superior's surface waters are very clearly warming," citing research which indicates the summer surface temperatures of Lake Superior have jumped nearly 2.5 degrees Celsius, or about four degrees Fahrenheit, over the last 30 years. "We are looking at things that you would expect, like the wind speed and direction, air temperature, humidity, cloud cover, all the things that control how energy is transferred from the atmosphere to the lake," said Austin. "These systems are really so complex, that it's very difficult to understand what the implications of this warming will be."
See the video at: