Upper Saranac Lake officially froze over on Dec. 14. The Upper Saranac Foundation 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, and the latest in 2016 on Jan. 5. While USL’s ice duration records are very limited, nearby lakes such as Mirror Lake in Lake Placid have records dating back as far as 1903. Mirror Lake on average freezes 17 days later than when recordings began.
Mirror Lake’s records indicate a significant reduction in the duration of ice cover over time, with current ice cover on average 24 days shorter than it was in 1903. Mirror Lake’s mean duration of ice cover over the entire record is 140 days. The mean duration since 2000 is 124 days.
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.