Lake Erie: Growing Hotter?
Water temperatures have been taken at the Cleveland Crib, the main intake supply for the Cleveland municipal water supply, continuously since 1900. The Crib lies about 3 miles north of the city over Lake Erie and water temperatures are taken at a depth of 35'. Prior to 2011, the highest reading on record was 79, set in 1988 & 1998. Last July saw readings as high as 82, although it is not reflected in this older data courtesy of NWS CLE.
THE RECORD HIGH WATER TEMPERATURE FROM THE CRIB IS 79 DEGREES WHICH
WAS SET IN AUGUST DURING THE VERY HOT SUMMER OF 1988. THAT READING
WAS REPORTED EACH DAY FROM THE AUGUST 16TH THROUGH THE 28TH.
THE RECORD WATER TEMPERATURE WAS TIED ON JULY 21ST 1998 WHEN THE TEMPERATURE
REACHED 79 DEGREES.
The past few days have also seen water temperatures reach 80 off the Crib.
THE WATER TEMPERATURE OFF TOLEDO IS 76 DEGREES...OFF CLEVELAND 80
DEGREES AND OFF ERIE 77 DEGREES.
Source (time-sensitive): Link
Water temperatures have also been taken continuously at the Buffalo Water Treatment Plant at the entrance to the Niagara River since 1927. Although the water temperature is not currently at all-time record highs there, it has still been running a few degrees warmer than the long-term mean. The all-time highest reading is 80, which was set just last year. Additionally, two all-time monthly highs have been set in 2012. The water temperatures reached 37 degrees in early February, and up to 40 degrees in late March, which were both monthly highs.
So is the warm lake water just a fluke? Or is there a trend towards increased water temperatures? I decided to take a look at this using the data from NWS BUF. Below I graphed the data for January, March, May, July, September, and November. For each month, I used the temperature recorded on the 15th.
As you can see, the trend since 1927 is up for each month. The largest apparent increase is in May, due to the fact that the west end of the lake was occasionally still ice covered on May 15th in the past. The lake today is typically close to 50 degrees by mid-May. The smallest increase is during the month of March, because the lake is almost always frozen at that time. Generally, the trends for the entire period of record have been pretty small, ranging from .08F/decade in March to .53F/decade in May. The other months ranged from .12F/decade to .17F/decade.
The trends have increased significantly since 1970. Again, the largest increase is in May, and the smallest increase in March. The water temperature trend in May over the period has been an impressive 1.42F/decade! In March, however, there has been little apparent increase, because the lake still usually freezes over during that time. The other months also demonstrate substantial warming, with a trend of +0.53F/decade in January, +0.77F/decade in July, +0.36F/decade in September, & +0.23F/decade in November.
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