Green Visions: Climate Change Close to Home
When thinking about climate change, visions might come to mind; melting ice caps, wildfires, etc. However, some impacts of climate change are more difficult to see - and not that far away.
Gretchen Hanson, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota, has been tracking the impact that climate change is having on cold water habitats. "Fish especially are really sensitive to temperature," says Hanson. "We've known for a long time that climate change has a potential to dramatically impact aquatic ecosystems."
The study has included about 11,000 lakes from eight different states across the Midwest and focuses on both the surface temperature of lakes as well as the temperature of the water at the bottom. Deeper waters can be insulated for cold water species to take harbor, but the water also needs an appropriate level of oxygen which can be effected by nutrient pollution from the surrounding land.
Pinpointing the level of protection that specific areas require is one large focus for the study that could provide stability going forward. "Local action can influence the response of ecosystems to climate change," says Hanson. "Even as the temperature gets warmer... we can still maintain habitat and have good water quality."