Shipping on the U.S. Great Lakes is suffering as a result of low water levels, a climate scientist and industry analysts say.
Water levels have remained below average for nearly 15 years. While the levels increased slightly in July and August following a wet, rainy spring, lakes Huron and Michigan remained at record lows about 18 inches below their average in July.
"In order to restore water levels, you need a series of wet years like we had this past spring, as the amounts of water involved are extraordinarily large," Paul Roebber, founder of Innovative Weather at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee was quoted as saying Wednesday in The Guardian newspaper.
The $34 billion Great Lakes shipping sector transports more than 160 million tons of cargo each year. Vessels traveling on the Great Lakes can typically transport cargo nearly $20 cheaper per ton compared to railways or trucks, using less fuel. Iron ore, coal and limestone, for example, are dependent on lake travel.