Climate-change induced lower water levels on the Great Lakes will hurt the region’s shipping industry and potentially halt production as shipping is the region’s main transportation for raw materials, the Great Lakes Echo reports.
As Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers’ Association, explains, draft refers to how deep a ship sits in the water. Depending on its size, a ship can lose 50 to 270 tons of cargo for every inch of draft that is lost.
A typical 1,000-foot freighter loses about $30,000 of revenue for each inch of lost draft, the newspaper says.
The National Climate Assessment, released by the White House earlier this month, said the 2012-13 winter had the least ice coverage on the Great Lakes since 1963. Lower ice leads to more evaporation and that means water levels decline, Anne Clites, a physical scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, tells the Great Lakes Echo.