Lake Superior Heating up in 2012

By KBJR News 1

July 30, 2012 Updated Jul 30, 2012 at 6:56 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northlands NewsCenter)
-- Lake Superior is experiencing some of its hottest water temperatures in the past 30 years. Some parts of the big lake are reporting 20 degrees above average just days before entering August.

It's a combination of things that is adding up to a recording breaking summer on Lake Superior.

"Temperatures for this time of year are about twenty degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal, in the western part of the lake; we are more than 12 degrees warmer than the 30 year average," said Jay Austin from the University of Minnesota-Duluth's Large Lake Observatory.

All over the Big Lake, data collected by buoys is showing water temperatures climbing higher and higher, and there not done yet.

"We have another two to three weeks where the lake is typically still warming up, so check back in mid august and we'll see some record daily temperatures," said Austin.

One of the hottest summers on record is contributing to the increase in warmth in Superior's water.

"It has been the warmest summer in 142 years of data gathering in the Duluth area," said Meteorologist Mike Stewart.

And while the hot summer days do have some influence on the overall temperature in the big lake, the drastic change we are experiencing this summer has a lot more to do with what was happening last winter.

"The lake has sort of a memory so if you have a warm winter you end up with that warmth of the winter carry though through the summer, so you add that to the remarkably warm summer we are having close to record breaking temperatures on Lake Superior," said Austin.

And while the impact to the lakes ecosystem and aquatic species is not certain at this point, researchers say they are certain the climate is changing.

Lake Superiors Eastern Buoy is about 20 degrees above average; it's around 70 degrees and according to researchers, the water temperatures near the shore have been reported around 70 degrees. It's more typical of an inland lake.