Millions of people rely on the Great Lakes for recreation, industry, and drinking water, and changing water levels can have positive or negative impacts on industries like tourism and transportation in the region.
Now in its fifth year, this forecast model has turned out to serve additional purposes that NOAA’s scientists hadn’t even considered – including maintaining sustainable fisheries and solving a smelly mystery!
From warmer ocean temperatures to longer and more intense droughts and heat waves, climate change is affecting our entire planet. Scientists at NOAA have long worked to track, understand and predict how climate change is progressing and impacting ecosystems, communities and economies.
Launching uncrewed systems to monitor climate and ecosystem changes in the U.S. Arctic, sequencing the genome for endangered marine species, and improving weather forecasts with advances in regional models — these are just a few of NOAA’s scientific achievements in 2020. The newly released 2020 NOAA Science Report highlights the ways these accomplishments — and many more — provide the foundation for vital services that Americans use every day.
On the afternoon of April 13, 2018, a large wave of water surged across Lake Michigan and flooded the shores of the picturesque beach town of Ludington, Michigan, damaging homes and boat docks, and flooding intake pipes. Thanks to a local citizen’s photos and other data, NOAA scientists reconstructed the event in models and determined this was the first ever documented meteotsunami in the Great Lakes caused by an atmospheric inertia-gravity wave.
Climate change is causing significant impacts on the Great Lakes and the surrounding region. As the largest surface freshwater system in the world, the Great Lakes have an enormous impact, seen and unseen, on the more than 34 million people who live within their collective basin. Because of their unique response to environmental conditions, Earth’s large lakes are considered by scientists as key sentinels of climate change. A long-term study published in Nature Communications today from NOAA reveals a warming trend in deepwater temperatures that foreshadows profound ecological change on the horizon. While less visible than the loss in ice cover and increasing lake surface temperatures, this latest index of climate change adds to the growing evidence of climate change impacts in the region.
NOAA scientists project the maximum Great Lakes ice cover for 2021 will be 30 percent, higher than last year’s maximum of 19.5 percent, but part of a long-term pattern of declining ice cover likely driven by climate change.
Congress voted on January 1, 2021 to reauthorize and strengthen the National Oceanographic Partnership Program, a 23-year old program created by Congress to facilitate ocean-related partnerships between federal agencies, academia and industry to advance ocean science research and education.The reauthorization passed Congress as an amendment included in Section 1055 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021.
The National Sea Grant College Act was reauthorized and amended by Congress and signed by President Donald J. Trump on December 18, 2020. The reauthorization, titled the “National Sea Grant College Program Amendments Act of 2020,” includes several updates to Sea Grant’s authorizing legislation. The Act serves as a guiding framework upon which Sea Grant operates and serves America’s coastal and Great Lakes communities.
Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) - or "NOAA Research" - provides the research foundation for understanding the complex systems that support our planet. Working in partnership with other organizational units of the NOAA, a bureau of the Department of Commerce, NOAA Research enables better forecasts, earlier warnings for natural disasters, and a greater understanding of the Earth. Our role is to provide unbiased science to better manage the environment, nationally, and globally.