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What floats high water in Lake Ontario? - National
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What floats high water in Lake Ontario? – National

In the Cathedral Bluffs Yacht Club, the docks are virtually hidden thanks to the high water levels of Lake Ontario.

The sight is reminiscent of two years ago, when the lake broke the water level records in what yacht club members called a "once-in-a-lifetime" event.

READ MORE: "It is actually frightening": Boaters stranded by high water levels on Lake Ontario

But the highest reached in 2017 was 75.69 meters, according to data from the US Army Corps of Engineers.

In July 2019, the water levels did not fall below 75.75 meters. The average water level so far in July is 75.82 meters.

Why are the water levels high this year?

Water levels depend on many things, but heavy rainfall is one of the main components that Lake Ontario has seen higher levels this season.

The heavy rainfall can be either near the lake itself or near the inflows – the rivers and streams that feed into the lake.

“The influx into the Lake Ontario system has been extremely high this year due to precipitation and snow melt in Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence basin, & # 39; Kevin Bunch, spokesman for the International Joint Commission, told Global News.

He also said there was a high inflow of Lake Erie and the upper lakes, and heavy sweets in the Ottawa River, "which led to flooding in Montreal and limited how much water we could let through the dam of Moses-Saunders".

All of these contribute to the record highs on the lake.

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Climate change and human impact

There are two main factors that cause elevated water levels in lakes, said Blair Feltmate, head of the Intact Center on Climate Adaptation and professor at the University of Waterloo.

"We're getting more storms of larger amounts of water coming down in less time … and we've removed about 73 percent of the natural infrastructure that was originally here over the last 100 years," he said.

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While the former can be explained by a changing climate, the latter is due to the fact that people turned areas that used to be forests, fields and wetlands into paved areas or farmland.

Both pavement and agricultural development are less permeable.

"In both cases, when water hits these development areas, it does not quickly absorb into the groundwater system or stay on land for a long time," Feltmate said.

This means that more water flows out into the rivers and streams that flow to Lake Ontario.

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Will it stay that high for years to come?

"Canada will become wetter due to climate change," Feltmate explained, noting that Eastern Canada and the Great Lakes region & # 39; s will be the hardest hit.

That means that many ask: "Is this the new normal?"

Although extreme weather is more common nowadays than in the past due to climate change, the & # 39; normal & # 39; Canadians continue to evolve and change in the coming years – and Feltmate says it's going to get worse.

"What is normal today is not what was normal 25 years ago, and what is normal in 25 years goes beyond the extreme weather conditions we are experiencing today," he said.

"We are not going backwards with climate change. Climate change has happened and is still happening and we need to prepare better for high water levels and floods."

—With Kamil Karamali files

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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