For the second year in a row, the ice-in date for Upper Saranac Lake (USL) took place in January. This year, after one of the warmest Decembers on record, accompanied by heavy rains, we consider Jan. 5 to be the day when USL froze over from shore to shore. (Ice-in is defined as when the entire lake surface is covered with ice.)
There has been a significant change in the freeze-up period over the past century for Adirondack lakes. While the Upper Saranac Foundations (USF) ice-in records are limited, this year’s ice-in ties the second latest on record. Last year was the latest known date for USL to freeze over and stay frozen (Jan. 9).
The USF has ice-out records dating back to 1998, but ice-in records have only been kept since 2012. The earliest ice-in recorded was on Dec. 5, 2014. While USL’s ice duration records are very limited, its neighbor, Mirror Lake in Lake Placid, has one of the longest ice records in New York State with data going back as far as 1903. Mirror Lake on average freezes 13 days later than when recordings began.
Long term data like this helps us understand how our environment is changing. Research has shown that warming water temperatures and prolonged stratification are a threat to lake trout across their native range. The changes observed in the local ice record data reflect similar changes observed across North America. These changes represent a potential change in the habitat suitability for cold water fish like lake trout and vulnerability to introductions of non-native and invasive plants and animals.
For more information about USL’s ice-in and ice-out records, visit usfoundation.net/programs/ice-in-ice-out.