Wednesday, August 08, 2007

To Our Readers

People stop me on the street everyday and say, ''Dave, you cannot write." Yes, if I could understand what they were saying, I could agree, but they manage to read it anyhow. But then, if only they could read, I would not be writing this. So we are even.

Anyhow, I came across this paragraph the other day, from the book, Plant Ecology, by Dr. Ernst-Detlef Schulze, Dr. Erwin Beck, and Dr. Klaus Muller-Hohenstein:

The stable isotope 13C is another indicator showing that gases from fossil fuels enter the earth's atmosphere. In pre-industrial times, the so-called d13C value (atmospheric 13C/12C ratio compared with a standard) was -6.5%. Adding CO2, depleted in 13C , from fossil C-sources has decreased the d13C by ca. 1% in the last 40 years.

This quote, from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, helps to explain:

Changes in the 13C/12C ratio of atmospheric CO2 thus indicate the extent to which concurrent CO2 variations can be ascribed to variations in biospheric uptake. The calculation also requires specification of the turnover times of carbon in the ocean and on land, because fossil fuel burning implies a continuous release of isotopically light carbon to the atmosphere. This leads to a lowering of the atmospheric 13C/12C isotope ratio, which takes years to centuries to work its way through the carbon cycle (Keeling et al., 1980; Tans et al., 1993; Ciais et al., 1995a,b).

As I watch the lakes up here sizzle, roil, and throw off steam and the lakeshores expand into lake basins and fish jump into the boat pre-cooked and ready to eat, I see this quote in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on August 7:

A drought stretching into its second year has dropped water tables so low in some areas of the state - particularly central and northern Wisconsin - that shorelines are growing daily, boats and motors are scraping bottom and docks sit idle...The problem is worst in what the Department of Natural Resources calls "seepage lakes," where there is no natural inlet or outlet of water. Also known as spring-fed lakes, water levels are regulated by rainfall and groundwater. Many of Wisconsin's 15,000-plus inland lakes are seepage lakes...It's no secret it's been dry in Wisconsin the past two years. Aside from a stingy number of raindrops, the drought has been compounded by a mild winter that left below-normal amounts of snow to melt and replenish groundwater tables. Plus warm winters meant lakes froze over later, allowing more water to evaporate, said Richard Lathrop, a DNR research limnologist.

And then this quote from a local paper, the Lakeland Times, on July 20:

Dr. John Magnuson, University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) professor emeritus, gave a lecture explaining how climate change affects fish and other aquatic life at the Lakeland Union High School (LUHS) distance learning lab July 11...Magnuson's expertise is in the field of limnology, or the study of fresh, inland waters...Perhaps the most critical point Magnuson made during his lecture is that if annual temperature averages continue to get warmer, the fish, plants and animals unique to the Northwoods will either die or leave. According to Magnuson, if this trend continues, living in Wisconsin in the future will be more like living in a southern state. Magnuson said a report on climate change in the Great Lakes region made a prediction "of what Wisconsin might be like by the end of this century, and they said, "Well where in the United States does that climate now occur?' It occurs in Arkansas."

Well, that is enough for one night. Our latest travels took us to the badlands in the western Dakotas. Here is Amy on duty: