These are lumber tailings, freshly exposed from the bottom of Muskegon Lake as the lake levels fall and recede. It may not seem terribly surprising or interesting that the wood waste of lumber production is exposed from the lake bottom unless you realize that Muskegon hasn't really been a lumber town since the late 1800s...about 120 years ago. But here are the lumber tailings. Freshly preserved, thousands of them as far as the eye can see on the shoreline that not too long ago had been under water for at least a century.
For many it's merely academic, the news that Lake Michigan and Lake Huron have reached record lows for December and are on the edge of reaching all time historical lows. Along the coast of Lake Michigan, we're watching the Big Lake coastline recede while smaller coastal inland lakes are drying dramatically.
Here's Muskegon Lake this week...
Dwindling water levels. No water ice, in January. See that red light up there near the right? Draw a line from there to the left center of the image, and all the water on the right of it is gone, when just a few months ago it was up to where the reeds are.
And another photo
Here's what it looked like in 2009 at almost exactly this time of year.
Ice shanties. Higher water levels.
Here's an overhead visual of about how much the lake has dwindled - also illustrated by an acquaintance of mine, Jon McEwen. All the areas between the red lines is now above water.
I'm not going to harp too much about how Muskegon Lake is a critical part of the Muskegon community and economy. It is. But I will point out that we are watching, in real time, the effects of climate change right here in my home.
Greater evaporation due to reduced ice cover in the winter and drier conditions. Drought. Less precipitation. The water levels are declining fast. FAST.
Jon McEwen makes an interesting point: as the water levels decline, the amount of weight on the terrain around and under the lakes is significantly lower...what effect will that have on land rebound if any? We're entering unknown territory with record low Lake Michigan levels. What type of real world effects will the rise of bottom lands and surrounding lake lands lead to? We don't know. We've never seen this before.