Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Real Climate Change at Work

Most of you probably never heard of Devil's Lake, North Dakota, but it has probably experienced more climate change than anywhere else in this country. Climate change is normal. Stability is not.

The town experienced incredible extreme hot and cold -- during the Great Depression.
The Daily Messenger (Canandaiguany, New York),
July 6, 1936

Records in Weather
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A dizzying succession of phenomenal weather -- most of it bad -- has made the past 12 months one of the most remarkable periods on the weather bureau's books. 
In one part or the country of another weather men have recorded the coldest Winter -- the hottest Summer -- the worst floods -- the most devastating dust storms and the most severe tornadoes and hurricanes in history. 
The Central and Eastern portions of the country recorded the extremes in low temperatures during the Winter of 1935-36. 
"At Devil's Lake, N D, bureau officials said, "there was established a Winter - a temperature record that probably has no parallel in the weather history of this country for a first-order weather station. The temperature went below freezing on November 27 and did not rise to the freezing point until March 1, a period of 96 days." 
The average temperature for January and February at Devil's Lake was 13 degrees below zero. 
It is the same region where record heat is no being recorded. Within the past week, a report of 112 degrees was received from Devil's Lake. Kennebec, S D, reported a maximum of 119 degrees.
That was in 1936, long before the recent few hundredths percent carbon dioxide increase addition to the atmosphere that supposedly will cause extreme weather, floods, droughts, pestilence, disease and famine nation and worldwide.

Devil's Lake, North Dakota is called Devil's Lake because it is on the shores of Devil's Lake, at least it is once again. Devil's lake is approximately 330 square miles -- about two thirds the size of Lake Tahoe.

During three generations (my, my parents and my grandparent's lifetimes) first the lake level dropped 40 feet. Then it rose 50 feet. Here is a graph which covers most of that time frame.

Devil's Lake change in surface level, 1865 to the present. Source: U.S. Geological Survey

Devil's Lake has approximately tripled in size since the early 1990s (light blue and dark blue in the map below).  

Pink is the natural maximum lake extent, after which Devil's Lake would flow into the Sheyenne River, then into the Red River of the North, which empties into Hudson Bay.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt visited Devil's Lake when it was virtually dry (almost down to the small yellow/brown segment above).
 The Salt Lake City Tribune, August 7, 1934

DEVILS LAKE, N. D., Aug. 6 (AP) -- President Franklin D. Roosevelt will be afforded a first-hand glimpse of the havoc wrought by the drouth when he arrives here Tuesday.
He will pass by fields of heat-seared grain of Devils lake on his trip of inspection of portions of the Missouri river diversion project.
The chief executive also is expected to experience the heat which has given North Dakota the hottest May and June in history, and the third hottest July, with the consequential serious general crop damage.
He will hear the story of farm conditions from various experts who have been sent from the state capitol to give an accurate report on the inroads of the aridity.
Corn crops burned irreparably by the blazing sun will be a part of the picture, and the need for water in the state will be explained in detail.Representatives from South Dakota will join North Dakotans in describing the drouth situation to the president's aides. A committee of about 25 persons will comprise the two groups. 
Mr. Roosevelt and his party are expected to head westward from the city on highways traversing ground over which the waters of Devils lake once flowed.
Will See Derelict Vessel 
Minnie H., bones stranded on the Devils Lake shore,  circa 1934.
He will see the derelict vessel, Minnie H., which once carried mail passengers, troop supplies and freight to Fort Totten and Minnewaukan.
The president will be taken as far westward as Minneewaukan to view the huge dried up bay. The part will move on to Lallie, thence to historic Fort Totten, where the chief executive will be greeted by more than 1000 Indians at the Indian agency.
Along the lake shore the party will move to Camp Grafton from where the return to Devils Lake will start, passing by the deyhdrated Sinofeast lake. 
The Minnie H. sailing on Devils Lake, circa 1900.
Since 1803 (sic) the water level of springfed Devils lake has been steadily decreasing. It as dropped approximately 30 feet in the past half century. Portions of the lake bed have been transformed into farming land. 

Lake level changes have been happening since, well, just about forever.
Prehistoric Water Level 
Since glaciation, the water level of Devils Lake has fluctuated from about 1,454 feet above sea level, the natural spill elevation of the lake, to about 1,400 feet above sea level (Aronow, 1957). According to Bluemle (1981), the elevation of Devils Lake was more than 1,440 feet above sea level 8,500 years before present. Callender (1968, p. 261) made various chemical analyses of sediment samples from Devils Lake to provide a lake-level chronology for the past 6,500 years. Callender concluded that 
The lake was dry during the last part of the Hypsithermal (6,500 years before present) interval. The level rose and then declined several times between 6,000 and 2,500 years before present, after which a peat was deposited in Creel Bay approximately 1,340 years ago. Several more lake-level fluctuations culminated in a very saline, low-water stage 500 years before present, when oak trees grew on the dry surface sediment of East Stump Lake. The level subsequently rose until 1800 A.D., declined to a low-water stage in 1940 A.D., rose until 1951 A.D., and steadily declined from that time to the present [1968]. Comparison of the Devils Lake chronology with those from other regions indicates that major climatic changes which caused significant fluctuations in the lake level may have extended beyond the northern Great Plains region."
Generalized surficial geology of the Devils lake area. (Modified from Paulson, 1964; Bluemle, 1965, 1973; Carlson and Freers, 1975; Clayton and others, 1980a, 1980b; Hobbs and Bluemle, 1987.)Aronow (1955, 1957) analyzed abandoned shorelines, water-deposited sand and gravel deposits containing buried soils and vertebrate remains, and rooted stumps uncovered by receding water around Stump Lake. In general, Aronow's interpretation (1955, 1957) of water-level fluctuations is similar to Callender's (1968), although some differences do exist. Aronow indicated that a lowering of water levels of lakes in the Devils Lake Basin occurred during a dry period in the 15th and 16th centuries, as evidence by the growth of burr oak in Stump Lake. According to Brooks (1951), this dry period occurred throughout most of western North America. Following this dry period, there was a general rise in water levels from the mid-1500's until the mid- to late 1800's. This period of rising water levels commonly is referred to as the Little Ice Age. In a more recent study, Bluemle (1988) used radiocarbon dates of soils and concluded that Devils Lake overflowed into Stump Lake in the last 1,800 years.
Other aquifers in the Devils Lake area include the Starkweather aquifer, the McVille aquifer, the Warwick aquifer, the Tokio aquifer, and the Sheyenne River aquifer. A total of more than 1 million acre-feet of ground water is stored in all of these aquifers (Trapp, 1968; Downey, 1973; Randich, 1977; Hutchinson and Klausing, 1980).
In summary, all of these studies indicate that large and frequent water-level fluctuations of 20 to 40 feet occur every few hundred years. A rising or declining water level seems to be a more normal condition for Devils Lake than a stable water level. (emphasis in original).

All of this is normal.  Change is common -- nothing to do with a few hundredths of one percent change change in the composition of the atmosphere. Don't fall for the line people. Good luck to all.

This shows HWY 281 north of Minnewaukan, ND. This series shows how Devils Lake is slowly gobbling up farms, farmland, cities, highways and roads. Starting in 1993 the lake has risen about 29 feet and continues to rise- the lake has qundrupled it's size from 44,000 acres to more than 177,000 acres. It covers about 280 square miles now and it's volume of water has increased 6 times.

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