Winter is integral to the culture of the Great Lakes region. Warm mid-February days draw Michiganders outside, but they're uneasy.
"We like it when it's nice like this, but it's not real winter unless it's, like, minus 40," says Kasey Spencer, a lifelong Upper Peninsula resident. "When it's cold, we're miserable -- but we're also really happy, you know? If we have a really warm winter, it feels like something's wrong."
There's more heat in the air, trapped by the greenhouse gases humans continue to pump into the atmosphere. Climate experts forecast air temperatures in the Great Lakes basin to rise by another degree or so by 2045, and roughly six to 10 degrees by 2100. There's also more heat in the water, forced in during long, hot summers.
However, some scientists predict that by the end of the 2030s, there will be 15 to 16 fewer days with the minimum temperature below freezing in the Great Lakes basin, and by the 2050s a few more. By the end of the century, depending on the strength and aggressiveness of climate actions taken, 27 to 42 fewer days each year could be below freezing, scientists say.