Study compiles Great Lakes stress mapsNew maps are being published showing the mix of environmental threats to the Great Lakes.
By: By Chuck Quirmbach, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
New maps are being published showing the mix of environmental threats to the Great Lakes. The maps may affect future Great Lakes clean-up work.
Researchers at the UW-Madison and University of Michigan have surveyed more than 150 scientists and resource managers from across the Midwest. The result is new maps that not only show individual threats to the Great Lakes, but also how up to 43 types of pollution, invasive species, climate change, and other threats can be weighted and combine to stress parts of the lakes. UW zoology professor Pete McIntyre says as an example, it may not be good enough anymore to just try to clean up one chemical from some contaminated sediment.
"There's a risk if you do that, you might miss two dozen other stressors," he said.
The new report says almost all projects completed or underway, under the billion dollar Great Lakes Restoration Initiative already take on more than one pollutant. But McIntyre says the new maps may help guide additional cleanup. As congress and the White House debate the so-called fiscal cliff, it's possible that Great Lakes restoration could face a budget cut. McIntyre says the release of the new maps is not timed for political purposes.
"We followed the scientific practice of getting published in a journal,” he said. “That takes time."
The Great Lakes stress maps are published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.