According to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan, 93.29% of Lake Michigan’s surface is covered in ice. This ice cover breaks the previous record of 93.1 percent in 1977.
Just last week, the ice cover reached 92.2 percent for the entire five-lake system. By Monday night, it had dropped to 83.9 percent. The ice cover was measured just in time as the high temperatures caused most of the ice to melt, bringing the ice cover down to 77.1 percent by Tuesday.
Lake Michigan and the other great lakes are used to supply drinking water to the nearby residents. Millions of people rely on the lakes for their drinking water. Only the surface of the lake was frozen.
Great Lakes ice cover declined 71% between 1973 – 2010. According to a study from 2012, researchers at NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory found that the biggest loser of ice during the 1973 – 2010 time period was Lake Ontario, which saw an 88% decline in ice cover. During the same time period, Superior lost 79% of its ice, Michigan lost 77%, Huron lost 62%, and Erie lost 50%. The loss of ice is due to warming of the lake waters. Winter air temperatures over the lower Great Lake increased by about 2.7°F (1.5°C) from 1973 – 2010, and by 4 – 5°F (2.3 – 2.7°C) over the northern Lakes, including Lake Superior.
The ice cover on the lakes will likely prove the be a positive thing as it will help raise water levels that have been low for the last several years. The rise in water will also benefit Great Lakes tourism and commerce.
What do you think of the record breaking ice cover on Lake Michigan?
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