The combination of climate change and natural periodicities in meteorological variables are demonstrating significant impacts on the water resources of Lake Superior within the Laurentian Great Lakes system of North America. Statistical analyses of long-term records are used to demonstrate how changes over time may be interpreted very differently, depending upon the timeframe over which the analyses are made. Non-linear regression modelling shows that, while increasing trends in overland and overlake precipitation, flows and runoff occurred during the first decades of the twentieth century, very different trends are apparent for the period 1970–2005. For this latter period, increasing rates of air overlake temperature and lake evaporation are occurring but all other parameters are demonstrating decreasing trends. The result is a decline in water levels in Lake Superior at the rate of approximately 1 cm per year over the last 35 years. The results are used to show that to avoid decreasing water levels in Lake Superior, the discharge through St Mary's River must be decreased to approximately one-half the long-term annual average, the results of which will have dramatic implications for ships' cargo levels and hydroelectric energy generation.

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