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Great Lakes Today

A new report sums up the crazy winter that brought unusually warm temperatures to the Great Lakes region -- as well as some brutal Lake Effect snowstorms.

Toronto recorded its highest February temperature -- 66 degrees -- on Feb. 23, according to the Midwestern Regional Climate Center. The following day, more records were set in Syracuse (71), Binghamton, N.Y. (70), and Erie, Pa., (77).

Congress' approval of a spending bill will renew funding for a program that aids Great Lakes waters and surrounding lands.

Veronica Volk / WXXI

Restoration of Braddock Bay is still underway, but officials and developers are already looking forward to the construction of a new marina.

The Braddock Bay Restoration project is broken down into three phases. Phase one was completed in March, with over 300 acres of wetlands restored. Currently, the project is in its second phase, with ongoing construction to dredge the boating channel and build a barrier beach.

Associated Press

Plastic debris is pervasive in the waters that feed the Great Lakes, according to a new study published by the United States Geological Survey.

The study found widespread microplastics in 29 tributaries, with the highest concentrations in the Huron River at Ann Arbor, Mich., and the Buffalo River at Buffalo, N.Y.

Microplastics are fibers and beads that come from decomposing bottles and bags, clothing, and even some cosmetic products.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

Some of the migratory songbirds that pass through the Great Lakes region are already on the move, and volunteers at the Braddock Bay Bird Observatory are preparing for them. Hundreds of species – swallows, finches, warblers and more -- visit the observatory on the shore of Lake Ontario, just west of Rochester.

Today, the volunteers are repairing large nets, about 12 feet high with very fine mesh. That’s how they catch the birds.

"When they're flying along, they kind of hit these soft nets and fall into little pockets or hammocks," says education director Andrea Patterson.

First part of a series

In her family’s backyard overlooking Lake Erie, Melissa Zirkle watched as her son Jermaine joined some friends in the water. On that July day in 2013, she was building steps in the backyard.

“I kept looking and checking on him, and he was standing in the water and he was laughing, having fun with the other kids,” Zirkle says, recalling the scene along Ohio's shoreline. “Then about two minutes later, I heard cries for help.”

wbfo.org

SANDUSKY, Ohio (AP)  The federal government is handing out $2 million to cities along the Great Lakes to cut down storm water runoff and improve water quality at beaches. 

The money will go to 13 cities in Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota, New York, and Wisconsin to pay for green infrastructure projects. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the projects are expected to stop or capture 13 million gallons of untreated stormwater from contaminating swimming beaches. 

In Ohio, funding will go to projects in Ashtabula, Cleveland, Huron, Sandusky and Vermilion.

Toronto is one of the largest cities in the Great Lakes region and its long shoreline offers quick access to the cool waters of Lake Ontario.


The issue of invasive species threatening the region’s waterways is getting more attention. U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, along with other state and local officials, gathered at Buffalo's Outer Harbor Monday to announce federal legislation aimed at preventing invasive species from entering the Great Lakes.

Our monthly Science Roundtable looks at methane in the Great Lakes and how it relates to climate change. 

John Kessler, an associate professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Rochester, is leading a new research project that zeroes in on freshwater environments as a source of methane. He discusses the impact this type of research has on understanding and mitigating climate change. Our guests:

  • John Kessler, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Rochester
  • Nicola Wiseman, University of Rochester Class of 2018 

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