Current Research | Mar 7, 2017

Tracking When Boreal Lakes Freeze and Melt

Climate change impacts when lakes freeze over and melt

Evidence from temperate zone sites around the globe has indicated a decline in the duration of ice cover due to climate change. Few such sites, however, exist in the lake-rich boreal region of Canada.

For nearly 50 years, researchers at IISD Experimental Lakes Area have been collecting measurements on the duration of ice cover, ice thickness and snow thickness. This project uses the long-term record of ice cover to develop and modify existing models of the dates when lakes freeze over (“ice-on”) and melt (“ice-off”).

Current efforts focus on improving our understanding of the role of lake size (surface area, volume) in modifying the relationship between air temperature and ice-on/ice-off dates in the boreal zone.

A lake in northwestern Ontario

This ongoing work benefit from a strategic collaboration with Natural Resources Canada and the Canadian Space Agency, who are developing algorithms to estimate ice cover from the satellite constellations.  The estimates that the satellites provide, once validated, will allow a broader examination of the role of lake size in modifying shifts in ice-on and off-dates resulting from climate change.

Lee Hrenchuk explains more in her recent blog post.

This research is carried out in collaboration with Natural Resources Canada.