Upper Saranac Lake (USL) ice is out and this season was the shortest duration of ice coverage on record for USL. Most of the lake was ice-free on the 13th but some ice remained overnight making the Ice-out date April 14th. While the ice-out date is consistent with past years, the short period of ice cover can be attributed to the latest ice-in recorded. The Lake did freeze over in mid-December but with warmer-than-normal temperatures, it opened up again and didn’t freeze over for the season until January 9, 2023. Ice coverage on USL for the 2022-23 season lasted 96 days. The average ice cover duration for USL is 123 days.
While USL’s ice duration records are very limited, nearby lakes such as Mirror Lake have records dating back as far as 1903. Their records indicate a significant reduction in the duration of ice cover over time, with current ice cover on average 26 days shorter than it was in 1903. Mirror Lakes’ mean duration of ice cover over the entire record is 140 days. The mean duration since 2000 is 124 days.
The earliest recorded ice out was on March 24, 2012 and the latest was in 2018 on May 2nd. Keeping ice records are important for understanding lake water quality and, increasingly, scientists are interested in ice-in, ice duration, and ice-out data as an indicator of climate change. For a complete history of ice-in and ice-out records, visit the Upper Saranac Foundation’s Web page.
Ice-out records have been monitored on USL since 1998. Since 2012, the Upper Saranac Foundation has taken up the maintenance of these records and has added ice-in and ice-out duration statistics. These records help in our ongoing work to study and understand changes occurring to the Upper Saranac Lake watershed. While the implications for recreational use are obvious, there are also ecological effects – warming waters pose threats to native aquatic species such as trout. This change can also provide opportunities for invasive species to encroach on the watershed.