“The Great Lakes have 9 times the ice coverage of last year at this time,” says reader Marque2. These links to the Great Lakes Coastal Forecasting System -- Nowcast/Forecast pages include: current observed ice cover, wind, and air temperature; model-derived ice thickness, ice velocity, vessel icing, surface currents, and water temperature. The Great Lakes certainly do, with ice coverage at its highest percentage in 35 years, according to scientists from the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Mich. The last time the ice cover was even close to this level was in 1996, when it was approximately 82%. “And 33 times that of two years ago.” Here are comparison maps of ice concentration on Lake Superior. In that time, the lakes have surpassed 80% ice coverage a mere five times. The map shows the extent of the maximum ice cover on the Great Lakes for each year. (Feb. 19, 2019) Lake Huron still has below average ice cover at 24 percent coverage. The total loss for overall Great Lakes ice coverage is 71%, while Lake Superior places second with a 79% loss. This is the MODIS Lake Superior satellite picture from Wed. PM (2/27/19) (from NOAA Coastwatch). Shipping is shut down for a part of the year. The bar chart shows the maximum total % cover for the Great Lakes basin for each year. The long-term average for ice coverage on all five lakes—Superior, Michigan, Erie, Huron, and Ontario—is 54 percent. These far-reaching impacts emphasize the need for continued monitoring and modeling of the Great Lakes as our climate continues to change. Meanwhile, many different ecosystems also rely on ice cover during the winter. The Great Lakes farther south (Erie and Ontario) see their maximum ice extent in February while the maximum ice extent is normally found in March in the northern Great Lakes (Superior and Huron). Ice cover … The Detroit Army Corps of Engineers has kept records of Great Lakes ice coverage going back to 1973. Great Lakes ice cover decreasing over last 40 years A downward trend since the 1970s in the annual maximum extent of Great Lakes ice cover, which reaches a maximum every year during late winter and early spring, spells trouble for the Great Lakes ecosystem and the people who rely on it. ... And he sent me pictures of people standing on little ice floes, jumping into the lake in the winter. NOAA GLERL's ice cover dataset extends from 1973 to present, serving the Great Lakes ISBN 978-0-8061-2056-0. NASA's Aqua satellite captured this image of the lakes on the early afternoon of Feb. 19, 2014. So far, the Great Lakes ice cover is more extensive than it has been in the last two years. Every year freighters get stuck in the ice delaying deliveries and costing money. After a period of strong winds over the weekend, ice extent on othe Great Lakes dropped to 65.13% on Monday. These links to the Great Lakes Coastal Forecasting System -- Nowcast/Forecast pages include: current observed ice cover, wind, and air temperature; model-derived ice thickness, ice velocity, vessel icing, surface currents, and water temperature. A familiar view for many who live and play around the Great Lakes graces the current cover of National Geographic – a stormy sunset over Lake Michigan, seen from the sandy beaches of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Atlas of Great Lakes Indian History. But this is an anomaly. GREAT LAKES ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LABORATORY. The bottom image shows ice cover a year earlier (March 16, 2014) when ice covered 75 percent of the lakes. Great Lakes ice cover facts since 1973 94.7% ice coverage in 1979 is the maximum on record. All of the lakes begin to see ice develop along the shallower coasts during late fall and early winter before ice begins to expand in coverage from north to south across the Lakes throughout the winter. Data from GLERL/NOAA. is combined with other sources to translate daily ice charts into a pixel grid of percent NOAA The greatest ice coverage existed over northern Lake Huron, at 15.3 percent, while the lowest was just a hint of ice… GREAT LAKES ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LABORATORY. It can be used to identify averages, trends and record conditions. Great Lakes ice coverage is significantly lower than last year Photo showing the Great Lakes Ice Coverage taken on Feb. 16, 2020. community in research, application, and management. Two recent consecutive winters (2013–2014 and 2014–2015) brought unusually high ice coverage to the Great Lakes, and on March 6, 2014, overall ice coverage peaked at 92.5%, the second-highest in recorded history. Since 1973, the maximum ice cover over all of the Great Lakes was 95% in 1979, while the minimum during this period was only 1 1% in 2002. Even at winter maximum, most lakes normally remain at least somewhat un-iced. Lake Michigan's ice coverage is impressive, as these pictures show, but it's still far from breaking a record. Lake Huron has actually seen a rapid increase in surface ice development during the last week. Average maximum ice coverage on the Great Lakes from 1973-2018. Source: Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. Great Lakes ice coverage seasonal maximums, 1973-2017. Credit: GLERL/NOAA. However, while the yearly (and even the five-year running average) can be different from year to year (or decade to decade), the trend in ice cover over all of the lakes since 1973 is downward. In contrast, Lake Erie, a shallower lake, is normally over 70% ice covered by late winter. Buried within that long-term decreasing trend in lake ice are cycles of lower and higher amounts of lake ice that take place over decades. Great Lakes ice cover decreasing over last 40 years, Lake effect snow buries parts of the Great Lakes in December 2016, The paradox of lake effect snow: global warming could bring the Great Lakes more of it, at least for a while, Problem child: sometimes snow data need extra love, Northwest Passage clear of ice again in 2016, A warm pool in the Indo-Pacific Ocean has almost doubled in size, changing global rainfall patterns, Nature’s archives: piecing together 12,000 years of Earth’s climate story, March 2020 continues hot start to the year, September 2020: Another record-setting month for global heat. cover. An average winter is about 55 percent. Lake Superior's ice coverage further beat 2014's record in 2019, reaching 95% coverage… Fish spawning can be impacted. However, we did experience one brutal winter in 2013/2014. Decent early season ice coverage records date back to 1973. Graph by Scott Sutherland. Since the 1970s, ice coverage has generally decreased. That frigid year, the Great Lakes together reached 92% ice coverage, during which Lake Erie and the Straits of Mackinac (the region between Lakes Michigan and Huron) completely froze over and Lakes Huron and Superior nearly froze over. The map shows the extent of the maximum ice cover on the Great Lakes for each year. The siege of polar air that has gripped the region this winter has caused the most extensive freeze-over of the lakes since … Data is from the U.S. National Ice Center and Canadian Ice Service. The onset of first ice cover on inland lakes in the region is 6-11 days later than during the middle 19th century and the breakup of ice in the spring is 2-13 days earlier. Typical ice condition charts. The U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards have assisted over 300 ships this winter, one of the most demanding years for icebreaking. Last week in a 2 day period NOAA’s Great Lakes Ice model for Lake Superior showed ice decreasing but is gained ice. The decline of ice cover on the Great Lakes is best explained by a more sudden shift to less ice as opposed to a gradual decline (Mason et al 2016 and Van Cleave et al 2014). Data is from the U.S. National Ice Center and the Canadian Ice Service. “And 33 times that of two years ago.” Here are comparison maps of ice concentration on Lake Superior. How to read an ice chart. Even the climate itself is impacted by the ice overage. The Great Lakes have exceeded that average in four of the last six winters. By April, the lakes begin their annual melt. Typical ice condition charts. 30-year average ice condition graphics for the Arctic, Hudson Bay, East Coast, Great Lakes Ice actually has a considerable impact. The recent spell of record cold across the midwestern United States has caused ice on the Great Lakes to reach levels not seen since 2014, with yet more bone-chilling cold in the forecast. Great Lakes CoastWatch Node NOAA/Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory 4840 S. State Rd. 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