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A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

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The Senate dismisses the Mayorkas impeachment. Maryland Lawmakers fail to increase voting access. Texas Democrats call for better Black maternal health. And polling confirms strong support for access to reproductive care, including abortion.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Dwindling Great Lakes ice cover highlights troubling trend

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Monday, February 19, 2024   

The Great Lakes region has experienced record low ice cover this winter, and scientists said it is important to keep an eye on the warming trends.

Ice cover on the Great Lakes is currently at just 2.9% of the surface area, compared with the historical average of 38% for this time of year.

Ayumi Fujisaki-Manome, associate research scientist at the University of Michigan, said the main reasons for less ice are the current El Nino weather pattern and the warm phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation, both of which are preventing cold air from reaching the Great Lakes region.

She acknowledged winter recreation is certainly affected but emphasized there is a greater effect.

"People have to be more careful with such hazardous conditions," Fujisaki-Manome pointed out. "Even if we are getting warmer and having less ice, we're still subject to dangerous weather conditions such as lake-effect snowstorm or freezing rain, which is more dangerous."

Fujisaki-Manome noted year-to-year variations are occurring on top of the longer-term warming trend and can lead to extreme weather patterns.

Melissa Widhalm, associate director of the Midwestern Regional Climate Center at Purdue University, said all the changes are tied to an overall warming climate and warmer water temperatures. She stressed the importance of considering the long-term implications.

"There's some positives. If you have less ice, maybe that's great for shipping, but there are certainly some negatives," Widhalm contended. "You have winners and losers. It can be really damaging to fish species that lay their eggs and expect that ice to be there to protect their eggs during those winter storms."

In Detroit, an already dwindling season of black lake sturgeon fishing was canceled altogether because of safety concerns over low ice cover.


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