Friday, December 02, 2005

CLIMATE CHANGE: Lakes lose ice cover earlier in spring

The trend of northern lakes losing ice cover earlier each spring accelerated during the past 30 years as scientists continue to document a warming climate. Researchers recently re-examined ice trends for 56 lakes across Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario, and New York from 1971-2002. All 56 lakes showed a trend toward earlier ice breakup dates - an average of three days earlier each decade. The new study shows lakes losing their ice even faster than they were before 1975... (there's more)

Researchers found that the contour line on a map marking where lake ice has melted by April 7 each year moved north by 100 kilometers, or more than 62 miles, during the past 30 years. The recent study reaffirms one released in 2000 that showed lakes across the United States, Canada, Europe, Russia and Japan - over a 150-year period ending in 1995 - froze 8.7 days later each fall and lost their ice 9.8 days sooner each spring.

Other studies show Northland frogs emerging from hibernation earlier and migrating songbirds returning north weeks earlier than just a few years ago.

Not acting now to stem higher temperatures will devastate the U.S. economy in future years. J. Drake Hamilton, science and policy director for Minnesotans for an Energy-Efficient Economy, said more and more studies document a warmer climate in Minnesota, such as the ice cover research. She said the sensible reaction is to assume greenhouse gasses are part of the problem and then move to a renewable energy economy and away from imported fossil fuels.
"This issue has huge economic implications for our region. It's our lakes, our hunting grounds, our heritage all at risk here," Hamilton said. "Not acting will be much more costly for us."

Read the full article:Grand Forks Herald | 11/30/2005 | ENVIRONMENT: Lakes lose ice cover earlier in spring

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