It’s that time of year again! LEA is collecting dates of ice-out for our area lakes. If you’re a keen lake observer, we could use your help!
Ice-out (or breakup) dates have been collected since the 1800s and have been used as indicators of climate change. That is only part of the story and increasingly scientists are interested in the duration of ice cover on lakes. This is often a better proxy for air temperature trends and can impact lakes by affecting things like water levels, extent of anoxia, and recreational use. To get duration you need ice-in (or freeze) dates, which we’ve also started to collect (you may recall our cry for assistance the past few falls!).
Ice-out is defined by the state as when you can navigate unimpeded from one end of the water body to the other, or by the National Snow & Ice Data Center as the date of last breakup observed before the summer open water phase. Ice-in is the first date when a lake is observed to be completely covered with ice. Sounds easy, right? But, lakes can freeze and thaw multiple times in late fall before finally freezing over and our big lakes often don’t freeze all at once. We are most interested in the initial ice-in date in the fall and the ice-out date in the spring. Heads up — skim ice that melts as soon as the sun comes up should not be noted as ice-in, so have the morning coffee and email Ben around 11. 😉
Send your observations to us by emailing Ben@mainelakes.org. Be sure to include your name, lake, date, and any notes you want to share (like, loons were here 2 days ago, it’s been wicked cold, what a crazy spring, etc.). There are several organizations that collect ice data from around the state. LEA collects and shares data from our service area with the Lake Stewards of Maine (formerly VLMP) and (ice-out data) with the Maine DACF.
Thanks for your help!