Lake Superior is more than 90 percent iced over, and experts say there's a possibility it will be covered completely before winter's end for the first time in nearly 20 years. Someone has proposed a hike across Lake Michigan, and Lake Huron and Lake Erie are 95 percent frozen.
NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab
A collage of icy Great Lakes conditions.
But even without 100 percent ice cover, the icy lakes are having a major effect on the environment around them.
"The biggest impact we'll see is shutting down the lake effect snow," said Guy Meadows, director of Michigan Technological University's Great Lakes Research Center in Houghton, on Michigan’s snowy Upper Peninsula. Lake effect snow occurs when weather systems from the north and west pick up evaporating lake water that's warmer than the air, then drop it as snow after reaching land, he explained. An ice cover prevents that evaporation.
Ice on the Great Lakes can also contribute to more frigid temperatures, Meadows noted, because the warmer lake water won't have the chance to moderate the temperatures of those same northerly weather systems the way it usually does.
if there the weather is cold and calm, the ice can grow fairly quickly, because the water temperature is near the freezing point. However, strong winds can break up ice that's already formed, pushing it into open water and piling it vertically both above and below the water line.
The Soo Locks are currently closed for the winter, and all shipping on Lake Superior has halted, but ice buildups can cause problems in the spring. Even icebreaker ships can't do much about ice buildup that can be as much as 25 or 30 feet deep.
The ice can also have positive effects though. Lake Superior's whitefish and some other fish, for example, need ice cover to protect their spawning beds from winter storms. Heavy ice, therefore, should lead to good fishing.
Meadows said invasive nuisance species have been thriving at the bottom of Lake Superior in recent years largely because of warmer temperatures, so "cooling things back down will be a good thing in that sense."
Guy Meadows | Newswise
Over 70% of glacier volume in Everest region could be lost by 2100
27.05.2015 | European Geosciences Union
Climate engineering may save coral reefs, study shows
26.05.2015 | University of Exeter
The only professorship in Germany to date, one master's programme, one laboratory with worldwide unique equipment and the corresponding research results: The University of Würzburg is leading in the field of biofabrication.
Paul Dalton is presently the only professor of biofabrication in Germany. About a year ago, the Australian researcher relocated to the Würzburg department for...
Physicists have developed an innovative method that could enable the efficient use of nanocomponents in electronic circuits. To achieve this, they have developed a layout in which a nanocomponent is connected to two electrical conductors, which uncouple the electrical signal in a highly efficient manner. The scientists at the Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel have published their results in the scientific journal “Nature Communications” together with their colleagues from ETH Zurich.
Electronic components are becoming smaller and smaller. Components measuring just a few nanometers – the size of around ten atoms – are already being produced...
Development and implementation of an advanced automobile parking navigation platform for parking services
To fulfill the requirements of the industry, PolyU researchers developed the Advanced Automobile Parking Navigation Platform, which includes smart devices,...
The world's first electrical car and passenger ferry powered by batteries has entered service in Norway. The ferry only uses 150 kWh per route, which...
On Tuesday, 19 May 2015 the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its home port in Bremerhaven, setting a course for the Arctic. Led by Dr Ilka Peeken from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) a team of 53 researchers from 11 countries will investigate the effects of climate change in the Arctic, from the surface ice floes down to the seafloor.
RV Polarstern will enter the sea-ice zone north of Spitsbergen. Covering two shallow regions on their way to deeper waters, the scientists on board will focus...
20.05.2015 | Event News
18.05.2015 | Event News
12.05.2015 | Event News
27.05.2015 | Power and Electrical Engineering
27.05.2015 | Health and Medicine
27.05.2015 | Physics and Astronomy