Lack of ice upends Great Lakes’ food web, incites algae blooms

Louise Matthews
Trumpeter swans find some open water along the Lake Erie shore last month. The ice in Ottawa County has melted since then as temperatures have been unseasonably warm.

It is the middle of March and the Fantastic Lakes are almost ice-totally free. 

Ice has been far under average this yr, with only 7{ead4cb8c77dfcbdb67aba0af1ff8dfae0017fcc07a16fe7b51058939ac12c72a} of the lakes covered as of very last Monday — and no ice at all on Lake Erie. Lake Erie’s common ice protection for this time of 12 months is 40{ead4cb8c77dfcbdb67aba0af1ff8dfae0017fcc07a16fe7b51058939ac12c72a}, based on measurements about the previous 50 percent-century. The lake usually freezes about the fastest and has the most ice deal with because it truly is the shallowest of the 5 Excellent Lakes. 

But communities along Ohio’s north coastline, like Cleveland, Sandusky and Port Clinton, have seen significantly significantly less ice forming on Lake Erie in modern several years.

According to the Countrywide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Good Lakes Environmental Exploration Laboratory, Lake Erie’s ice coverage peaked in early February at 40{ead4cb8c77dfcbdb67aba0af1ff8dfae0017fcc07a16fe7b51058939ac12c72a}, a almost 20{ead4cb8c77dfcbdb67aba0af1ff8dfae0017fcc07a16fe7b51058939ac12c72a} minimize from the historical common.

Seagulls sit on the thin ice along the shore of Lake Erie in Michigan's Monroe County in March 2022.

No ice is not a very good thing for the lakes’ ecosystem. It can even stir up hazardous waves and lake-result snowstorms. 

So, what takes place when the lakes are ice-cost-free? What does it necessarily mean for the lakes’ food web? Is local climate alter to blame?

Little ice deal with can be disastrous

This winter season has by now proved how risky lake-influence snow can be. 

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