The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Record ice coverage persists on Lake Superior

Lake Superior, late April with ~60% ice coverage

A year ago at this time of year, Lake Superior had less than 5% ice coverage. This year, thanks to the brutal winter, polar vortex, and cool spring, it is still almost 60% covered with ice. 

While ice breaking efforts have ceased in the lower Great Lakes, Coast Guard cutters are still escorting convoys of ships in Lake Superior.

One benefit of the ice coverage: the level of all the Great Lakes will rise this year due to the decreased evaporation over the winter.  

But the negatives of persistent ice coverage include: delayed shipping season and stress on wildlife. The diving ducks who winter over in the Great Lakes had restricted access to open water this winter resulting in many thousands of these birds starving to death. 

Here is a little video I shot in Chicago this winter. This is a merganser duck, and it is diving for dinner underneath the encroaching ice near Navy Pier.  

I will travel up to Isle Royale next month to assist with the Wolf-Moose Study there. This is a wild place and it's bound to be chilly at night due to all the ice still afloat on Lake Superior!

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