New Publication: Widespread Loss of Lake Ice in a Warming World

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Photo Credit: NPS

  A new publication, Widespread loss of lake ice around the Northern Hemisphere in a warming world, assesses loss of lake ice and impacts to communities.

  Lake ice is one of the world’s resources most threatened by climate change. Ice provides a range of ecosystem services—including fish harvest, cultural traditions, transportation, recreation and regulation of the hydrological cycle—to more than half of the world’s 117 million lakes.  This study, part of NE CASC project Coupled physical-chemical-biological models to predict losses of cold-water fish from inland lakes under climate warming, identifies threatened lakes vulnerable to ice-free winters and its impacts.

  This analyses reveal the importance of air temperature, lake depth, elevation and shoreline complexity in governing ice cover in the Northern Hemisphere.

Take-aways include

  • 14,800 lakes currently experience intermittent winter ice cover
  • 35,300 lakes projected with a 2 °C
  • 230,400 projected lakes at 8 °C
  • Effects impacting up to 656 million people


 This study illustrates that an extensive loss of lake ice will occur within the next generation, stressing the importance of climate mitigation strategies to preserve ecosystem structure and function, as well as local winter cultural heritage.


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