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'Sea change' voyage looks at climate change on Lake Superior

A Minnesota woman, who has spent the last three years sailing around Lake Superior, says she's encouraged by the amount of discussion she's hearing regarding the effects of greenhouse gas emissions on the largest of the Great Lakes.

Gordon family of Minnesota and crew of 4 stop in Thunder Bay to discuss climate change and Great Lakes

Keera Rowan (left) is a crew member onboard the Amicus, which is owned by Katya Gordon (right) and her husband Mark. They have been sailing Lake Superior sharing their insights on the impact of climate change on the largest of the Great Lakes. (Cathy Alex/CBC)
A "sea change" on Lake Superior... We hear from two women who are sailing the greatest of Great Lakes and sharing their insights of the affect of climate change in communities along the way.. They were in Thunder Bay this weekend. 5:58

A Minnesota woman, who has spent the last three years sailing around Lake Superior, says she's encouraged by the amount of discussion she's hearing regarding the effects of greenhouse gas emissions on the largest of the Great Lakes.

In 2013, Katya Gordon, her husband Mark, and their two daughters — 13-year-old Cedar and 11-year-old Lamar — along with a rotating crew of four, embarked on the "Sea Change" voyage to raise awareness about the impact of climate change on Lake Superior, and inspire people to take action.

Cedar Gordon, 13, (left) has been on the Amicus since she was a toddler. Family friend Brooke Doughty, 15, is joining this leg of the voyage on Lake Superior, which is looking at the impact of climate change. (Cathy Alex/CBC)

Back then, people were still debating whether climate change was real, said Gordon, adding the conversation is much different now.

"It's really been a watershed few years. I would never have guessed, when we started this trip, how far the conversation would have advanced. I feel like now, we're really talking about 'here's what the situation is, and here's what we can do about it'."

The data suggests the lake is warming — and that is having a huge effect on all the ecosystems, Gordon said.

"It's affecting the food chain, the fish, [and] our industries because it's affecting the shipping season, and it's affecting the water level."

'The lake is the boss'

The chance to learn more about climate change — and its effect on the lake she grew up beside — inspired 19-year-old Keera Rowan of Thunder Bay to sign on as a crew member.

"Living alongside the lake, you live with the lake. We need to respect the lake and take better care of it, and understand climate change, and do what we can to keep the temperatures where they are," said Rowan.

Spending her days on the open water, far outside Thunder Bay harbour has taught her an important lesson she hopes to share with others.

"The lake is the boss," said Rowan.

Gordon and the crew of the 12-metre Amicus visited Thunder Bay's marina on Sunday.

They will spend the next month visiting Nipigon, Rossport, Terrace Bay, Marathon, the Slate Island and Isle Royale.

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