Fisheries experts say a warming of the oceans is increasing the risk of damage to the lakes by melting sea ice.
In a new study, the University of Toronto’s Dr. John O’Brien, an expert in aquatic and oceanography, and his colleagues used satellite data to estimate the average temperatures of Lake Erie and Lake Huron in the Ontario lakes in the past 40 years.
O’Briens findings were published Thursday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
They estimate that the average lake surface temperature in Ontario is about 6 degrees Celsius, which would be 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it was in the 20th century.
That warming is expected to continue into the 21st century.
O’Brien says it is a concern because Lake Erie is home to the largest amount of fish in the world, but he says the lake is also home to an enormous amount of habitat for birds, including the white-winged blackbird.
He says that as the warming increases the likelihood of habitat destruction is increasing, as well as the threat of the disease the blackbirds carry, Chytridrosis.
The disease is an invasive species that has been eradicated in the United States and Canada.
In Ontario, a study found the blackbird population has been dropping, but the study also found the population of white-wings has been increasing.
Lake Erie is one of the most important lakes in Canada, so it is particularly vulnerable to climate change, O’Malley says.
He says that it could become more of a lake than a lake as the oceans become more acidic.