Earth Gauge: Lake effect snowfall trivia

4:58 PM, Jan 7, 2013   |    comments
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Is the Great Lakes region getting more or less snow after 40 years of ice cover melt?

Warmer temperatures in the Great Lakes region have been accompanied by declines in annual-mean lake ice cover since 1973.

On average, each year during this period has had 520 fewer square miles of ice cover than the year before. Overall, annual-mean lake ice cover loss for the Great Lakes has declined by 71 percent.

The Great Lakes region gets lots of lake effect snow generated by moisture from the lakes. Places like Marquette, Mich. (average of 180 inches per year) and Syracuse, N.Y. (average of 120 inches per year) are two of the snowiest places in the U.S.

Trivia Question: As Great Lake ice cover has declined, there is ____________ lake effect snow falling on the region.

a. more
b. less
c. the same amount


The correct answer is a. Before declines in Great Lakes ice cover, lake effect snow would generally occur early in the season as winds blowing in from Canada picked-up moisture from the surface; it would cease in midwinter once the ice cover had "capped-off" the lake and restricted moisture flow into the atmosphere.

Declines in lake ice now mean that more moisture is available longer into the winter season. More lake effect snow is falling in some parts of the region, like Syracuse, New York, which is getting 50 percent more snow than it did in the early 20th century.

WKYC-TV/Earth Gauge

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