Help LEA track ice-out on your lake!
Spring is here, and soon the snow and ice covering our lakes will melt once again. If you are a keen lake observer, you can help LEA by recording the date of ice-out on your lake. Send your observation to us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include your name, lake, the date of ice out, and any notes you want to share.
Ice-out is defined by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) as “when you can navigate unimpeded from one end of the water body to the other.” They note that “there may still be ice in coves or along the shoreline in some areas but when a person can traverse the entire water body without being stopped by ice floes, the department considers the ice to be out.”
There are several organizations that collect ice-out data from around the state. LEA collects and shares data from our service area with the Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program (VLMP) and the Maine DACF.
Keeping a record of ice-out dates is important to understanding lake water quality in an individual year as well as over time. The trend in ice-out dates shows that they’re getting earlier over time, as this graph from Keoka Lake shows. Ice-out on Keoka Lake now happens 10 days earlier, on average, than it did 78 years ago.
Early ice-out paves the way for a longer period of stratification in the summer, which can increase the magnitude of oxygen depletion occurring at the bottom of a lake. This loss of oxygen may lead to fish kills, internal phosphorus release, and algae blooms – all bad news for our lakes.