Scientists in cloud over mistier Niagara Falls
21 Jul 2006
Scientists on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border have different ideas to explain why the skyline at Niagara Falls is increasingly misty and wet.
Weather data shows Niagara Falls is mistier than it was 10 years ago. (CBC)
The Niagara Parks Commission started tracking weather conditions at the tourist site 10 years ago.
In that time, the number of misty days has increased from about 30 a year to more than double that number, the commission said.
Visitors complained they were getting wet when they tried to enjoy an outdoor patio, said John Kernahan, general manager of the commission in Niagara Falls, Ont.
To find out why the mist was increasing, the commission hired an engineering firm to build a scale model of the area and test it in a wind tunnel.
Hotel construction on the moraine was changing the wind conditions, the engineers concluded.
Geology Prof. Marcus Bursik in Niagara Falls, N.Y., is skeptical of that conclusion, saying it's not wind but increases in ground temperature that are leading to misty days.
"If the water from the river basically is a lot warmer than the air temperature, there's a lot more mist flowing out and that tends to obscure the view of the waterfall," said Bursik.
Bursik said he can't be sure if climate change has anything to do with the effect.
Scientists on both sides of the border agree more research is needed to clear the picture.
Some visitors said they think the mist adds to the beauty of the spectacle, noting the spray is refreshing on a hot day.
[link to www.cbc.ca