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8/30/2007

Biggest Great Lake seen heading for record lows

TORONTO (Reuters) - Warmer, drier weather coupled with alterations to the waterways of North America's Great Lakes will likely drive Lake Superior down to record low water levels sometime this year, experts say.

Lake Superior, the world's largest body of fresh water by surface area, has declined precipitously over the last decade but plunged down another 30 cm (1 foot) in the last year alone amid an "extreme drought," putting pressure on both commercial shipping and fish habitats.

"That's a dramatic fall," Cynthia Sellinger, a hydrologist at the U.S. Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, told Reuters. "Lake Superior has been in and out of an extreme drought since 2003, and now the drought has got more extreme on the lake's western basin."

Lakes Huron and Michigan, into which Superior flows, are similarly low -- down 1 meter (3.3 feet) in the last ten years -- leaving dried out marshes and some inaccessible ports.

Photo Above: A sunset over Lake Superior, near Tofte Township, Minnesota is seen in this undated handout photo.
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