What happens to heat energy reaching the Great Lakes?
Even as far back as the “log cabin days,” people knew that water absorbs a great deal of heat energy and can in turn release this heat. Pioneers would prevent foods from freezing on cold nights by placing a large container of water in the room. Can you think of why this might work? Conduct an investigation to explore how bodies of water can affect the surrounding areas. Learn how soil and water differ in their ability to absorb and release heat energy and how this difference in heat absorbed or released affects the atmosphere immediately above the land and immediately above the water.
How is Coastal Temperature Influenced by the Great Lakes and the Ocean?
The ocean is a major influence on weather and climate. Use a combination of laboratory investigation, map study, and graphing to learn how large bodies of water can serve as a heat source or sink at different times and how proximity to water moderates climate along the coast.
- describe how soil and water differ in their ability to absorb and release heat energy and
- describe how this difference in heat absorbed or released affects the atmosphere immediately above the land and the water
How Fast Can a Shoreline Change?
Ohio’s Lake Erie shoreline consists of wetlands, low bluffs, and gently sloping shore in the western one-third of the state and glacial till and soft shale bluffs in the eastern two-thirds of the state. The rate of shore erosion is affected by the kind of land and rock materials and the use of protective structures. Use map reading skills to recognize some shoreline features on aerial photos, observe changes in a shoreline over time, and observe the effects of shoreline devices on rates of erosion.
What evidence of glaciation exists in the Great Lakes region?
The Great Lakes Basin was once covered by the ice of continental glaciers. About 15,000 years ago the last ice melted to expose the lake basin. There have been minor advances and retreats of glaciers since then causing the level of the water in the lakes to rise and fall. How do scientists determine these past lake levels? Use mapping skills to identify the evidence of ancient beach ridges and become aware of the uses of ancient beach ridges today.
How Did Rocks and Rivers Shape the Great Lakes?
The rocks in the Great Lakes Basin are of two main types: metamorphic/igneous and sedimentary. The metamorphic/igneous rocks formed long ago, when molten rock hardened and the heat changed other rocks nearby without melting them. This happened over one billion years ago. The sedimentary rocks in the Great Lakes Basin formed in an ocean that covered most of the basin beginning about 600 million years ago. Use maps skills to relate the hardness of rocks to topography and lake depth, describe the topography of the Great Lakes area, and relate the pre-glacial drainage system to the present size and position of the Great Lakes.
After completing this activity, each student will be able to:
- Relate the hardness of rocks to topography and lake depth.
- Describe the topography of the Great Lakes area.
- Relate the pre-glacial drainage system to the present size and position of the Great Lakes.
What causes the shoreline to erode?
Shorelines along the Great Lakes vary in the nature of their sediments and resistance to erosion. Natural causes of erosion include waves, currents, and effects of wind and storms on shoreline processes. Simulate the processes of shoreline erosion to investigate the ongoing changes in coastal areas.
Great Lakes Overview Presentation
A 26-minute video introduction to the Great Lakes watershed.
External Curriculum Materials
Can You Say ‘Seiche?’
An Erie Times-News Newspapers in Education article on seiches in the Great Lakes
Lake Levels Fact Sheet
NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory discusses current and future water levels (February, 2017)
Great Lakes Basin Map and Bathymetric Profile (color)
8.5″ X 11″ color map of the Great Lakes’ watersheds including a bathymetric (depth) profile