By: Caitlin Federici
A warming climate has led to drastic swings in the water levels of Lake Michigan. Warmer temperatures lead to more evaporation and record-low water levels. Colder temperatures mean reduced evaporation and greater ice cover resulting in record-high water levels. While climate change causes the earth’s climate to trend warmer on average, these trends do not always manifest in a linear fashion. For instance, when warm air from the tropics moves too far north, it can disrupt the balance of the polar vortex sending blasts of arctic air much farther south than it would otherwise reach. In Chicago, an unstable polar vortex equates to frigid winters and rising levels in Lake Michigan; multiple consecutive years of such instability can produce record-high water levels.