Lake Michigan Climate Change Studied

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., June 15 (UPI) — A robotic submarine is being deployed in Lake Michigan, along with other specialized tools, to determine how young fish might cope with future climate change.

Purdue University scientists say they are correlating larval fish growth with various factors, including water temperatures near the lakeshore, where wind patterns might be altered by climate change and threaten fish populations.

“These larval fish are very vulnerable because they are not fully developed and cannot swim well, so they are really at the mercy of their environment,” said Assistant Professor Tomas Hook, who is leading the research. “Growth rates during the larval stage in part determine how well young fish survive to become adults. Rapid growth allows young fish to swim faster and, thereby, avoid predators, consume more food, and actively select warmer, more favorable waters. Otherwise, they can quickly starve to death.”

Previous studies suggest climate change might alter wind patterns on the Great Lakes and scientists say lake winds are important because they cause “upwelling events” that ferry cold water and nutrients from lower depths up to the near-shore zone.

“As a result of these upwellings, the fish in that zone see a temperature change of about 5 degrees to 10 degrees Celsius, which has a huge impact on metabolic rates,” Hook said.

The study, funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will detail the distribution, growth and survival of young fish.

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Categorized | Fish, Other, Wind
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