It's getting icy

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CO2 2022/2021 418.96 ppm / 416.4 ppm

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Frosty lakes: A few weeks ago, we shared news of exceptionally low ice cover on the Great Lakes. But since then, things have turned frosty and scientists are now predicting ice cover could reach 49% on the lakes, a substantial increase from the previous prediction of 12.3% ice cover. If the forecast is accurate, this would put ice cover close to the long-term average of 55%. More ice could reduce lake-effect snow, where cold air picks up moisture over open water and drops it as precipitation. It could also help whitefish, whose eggs are often protected by ice close to the shore. (Freep, MLive)

Sugar season: Little River Band of Odawa Indians citizen Dave Corey, who lives near Manistee, is preparing for maple sugaring. The season "comes quickly and ends just as quickly,” he said. Maple sugaring requires several days when daytime temperatures are above freezing, while nighttime temperatures are below freezing. In a good year, the season can last for 30 days. But human-induced climate change has reduced snowpack and produced warmer temperatures, causing the trees to warm up sooner. Once this happens, the sugar content in the trees’ sap declines and the season ends. Tribal governments in Michigan are coordinating to respond to climate threats to traditional practices like sugaring and the harvest of manoomin or wild rice. This could include partnering with other governments to address invasive species and water quality issues that are affecting traditional foodways. (Record-Eagle)

Gas leak: A Michigan state senator wants to keep utilities from charging customers for “natural gas” (i.e.methane, a potent greenhouse gas) that escapes from leaky pipes. State Sen. Jeff Irwin says DTE Energy and Consumers Energy can charge customers for $25 million worth of escaped gas each year. “I want to provide an incentive for these utilities to go out there and tighten up these leaks, protect our environment, and protect our ratepayers too,” he said. Irwin says the fixes will cost utilities and rate-payers more upfront but will save money in the long run. DTE and Consumers say they recently replaced hundreds of miles worth of leaky pipe. (MI Radio)

Two-eyed seeing: The book“Climate Ghosts: Migratory Species in the Anthropocene” by author Nancy Langston deals with individuals or species on the verge of extinction. Some of these species, like the lake sturgeon, have had significant resources invested in their restoration, yet they continue to struggle. Langston argues that people need to blend western science with Indigenous knowledge that views other species as kin, a process Indigenous communities call “two-eyed seeing”. “Both ways of seeing can help us be surprised by what we learn about the world outside of our own particular perspectives,” she says. “Both are essential in a sustainable future.” She also cautions that the emphasis on “collaboration” in restoration projects–which can involve multi-year environmental impact statements and community engagement–can be counterproductive when immediate action is needed to save threatened species. (Great Lakes Now)

How plants move: Birds and other animals perform an essential ecological service when they eat fruit and distribute the seeds in their droppings. As the climate warms, this process allows plants to travel to wetter, cooler areas where they’re more likely to survive. Unfortunately, the animals distributing these seeds are in decline themselves–a result of habitat loss and other factors–and a new study shows this is reducing the ability of plants to move by 60%. "If they're unable to do that, that means certain plants might disappear from our forests and other ecosystems," said Evan Fricke, an ecologist at Rice University. "It highlights that there's this tight link between the biodiversity crisis and the climate crisis." One solution to this problem is for land managers to do more “assisted migration”, planting things that are likely to succeed in a changing climate. The Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians has been experimenting with this process for the last few years on a farm near the Mackinac Bridge, planting trees from southern Michigan to find out what does well farther north. They are also planting tree seeds from the southern-most specimens of white cedar and paper birch to see if these can thrive in warmer temperatures. (Interlochen Public Radio, Bridge)


What questions do you have about the environment and climate change in Michigan? Please let us know by reaching out to me at NOTE: Please don't reply to this email, it will go into a digital netherworld.


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