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Lake Ice Cover – What It Means for Summer

Hello – see today’s pic of the lake ice cover. As reported on the Weather Network at this link:

https://www.theweathernetwork.com/news/articles/great-lakes-ice-cover-very-low-but-a-quick-change-is-coming/78821

 

Eyes ahead to Summer 2017

Even with all of the open water so far this season, the Great Lakes have managed to avoid having the lowest maximum extent on record. According to NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, they reached 13.5 per cent coverage on Jan 16, 2017, compared to a seasonal max of 11.9 per cent in 2002 and 12.9 per cent in 2012.

Still, depending on what happens in February, the lakes may struggle to get out of the bottom five years in the record books.


Credit: NOAA GLERL

Looking ahead, towards summer, this could mean another year of low water levels across the Great Lakes, due to the effects of evaporation.

Evaporation from the lakes is driven by the difference in the temperatures of the water and the air. The higher the water temperature, compared to the air, the greater the amount of evaporation there will be from the lakes.

During a cold winter, with the lakes frozen over, this halts evaporation by putting a barrier of ice between the water and air. Lake effect snows are rare, at best, and even in spring and summer, after the lakes melt, the greater amount of ice results in lower water temperatures, which keeps evaporation to a minimum. Thus, it doesn’t take much rainfall over the lakes to keep water levels higher.

During a warm winter, where the lakes are mostly ice-free, these warm lakes with less ice coverage directly result in more evaporation. This contributes to repeated lake effect snowfall events during the colder months, which are able to kick off simply by having the winds align properly over the lake surface. Later, as conditions warm during spring and into summer, the lake temperatures tend to stay a step ahead of the air temperatures, which results in stronger evaporation from water surfaces in the warmer months too. //

There is a lot of fascinating information at the Great Lakes Information Network:

https://www.glc.org/glin

Arlene

 

 

This entry was posted on Saturday, January 27th, 2018 at 1:40 PM and is filed under Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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