Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Adirondack lakes in North Eastern US lose ice cover as climate warms: Most pristine lake marks biggest change

Date:
May 7, 2012
Source:
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Summary:
Researchers have found lakes in the undeveloped High Peaks area of the Adirondack Park are covered with ice for significantly shorter periods than they were 32 years ago, providing evidence that climate change is occurring rapidly. Not even the most pristine wilderness areas are immune.

A lake near the Adirondacks in summer. Lakes in the undeveloped High Peaks area of the Adirondack Park are covered with ice for significantly shorter periods than they were 32 years ago, providing evidence that climate change is occurring rapidly and that not even the most pristine wilderness areas are immune.
Credit: Copyright Michele Hogan

Lakes in the undeveloped High Peaks area of the Adirondack Park are covered with ice for significantly shorter periods than they were 32 years ago, providing evidence that climate change is occurring rapidly and that not even the most pristine wilderness areas are immune.

Related Articles


Since 1975, five high-elevation lakes in the Adirondacks have had rapid decreases in the duration of ice cover and are now frozen for 7 to 21 fewer days on average, according to a study published April 30 in the journal Climatic Change by a team of researchers at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF).

"It shows us in a detailed way that the climate is warming in the Adirondacks, that it's warming in a way we might not expect," said Dr. Colin Beier, a research ecologist who is the paper's lead author.

Beier said analysis of local climate and lake ice records at ESF's Adirondack Ecological Center (AEC) in Newcomb shows the biggest change in ice cover has occurred in the fall and early winter, with ice forming on the various lakes about two days to two weeks later over the study period. The "ice-out" dates, marking the day the ice was considered melted, changed much less, probably because of the insulating value of snow cover. Three of the lakes recorded no consistent changes in the ice-out date; the biggest change observed was five days. This marks a difference from many previous studies of lake ice in the Northeast, which found more significant changes in ice cover were occurring in the spring.

Beier said the most pristine lake in the study group proved to be the most sensitive to recent warming.

All the lakes studied are within ESF's 15,000-acre Huntington Wildlife Forest, near the geographic center of the park: Arbutus, Catlin, Deer, Rich and Wolf. The most severely affected by recent warming was Wolf Lake, classified as a "Heritage Lake" because of its pristine condition. It contains no non-native species and it has not been negatively affected by acid rain; analysis of its sediments indicates Wolf Lake is in much the same condition it was before Christopher Columbus set sail. The study showed it has lost a full three weeks of ice cover since 1975. The equivalent time for the other four lakes ranged from 7 to 17 days.

"There's no evidence of human impact on the lake. It's a little tiny pocket of untouched ecology," Beier said. "But of the lakes we looked at, it shows the most change, both in the timing of the ice forming and melting, and in its shrinking duration. Conservation efforts are probably helping to protect it but conservation is not a panacea.

"Climate change is a game changer in conservation," he said. "There are places where you've done everything you can to protect these ecosystems and you think they're safe. They're not."

The difference in lake ice duration could affect recreational and tourism activities such as snowmobiling and ice fishing as well as impact water levels in the Hudson River, which flows from Adirondack headwaters. It could also have broad environmental effects on the life cycles of plants and animals. One of the most significant species that could be affected in the Adirondacks is the endangered native brook trout, a cold-water species that attracts recreational fishermen. Brook trout are stressed by warmer water and could face increased competition by other fish species adapted to warm water conditions.

Beier said the study shows the value of long-term data collection and proves the need for more research. "Our knowledge of climate change outpaces our knowledge of how it affects our local ecosystems," he said. "The reality is changes are happening that we have to pay attention to if we are going to adapt to them."

Beier's co-authors were ESF faculty members Dr. John Stella and Dr. Martin Dovciak and Stacy McNulty, a researcher at the AEC. Data for the study were collected as part of the Adirondack Long-Term Monitoring Program at the AEC.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Colin M. Beier, John C. Stella, Martin Dovčiak, Stacy A. McNulty. Local climatic drivers of changes in phenology at a boreal-temperate ecotone in eastern North America. Climatic Change, 2012; DOI: 10.1007/s10584-012-0455-z

Cite This Page:

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. "Adirondack lakes in North Eastern US lose ice cover as climate warms: Most pristine lake marks biggest change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120507164334.htm>.
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. (2012, May 7). Adirondack lakes in North Eastern US lose ice cover as climate warms: Most pristine lake marks biggest change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120507164334.htm
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. "Adirondack lakes in North Eastern US lose ice cover as climate warms: Most pristine lake marks biggest change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120507164334.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) The pair of rare white northern rhinos bring hope for their species as only six remain in the world. Elly Park reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trick-or-Treating Banned Because of Polar Bears

Trick-or-Treating Banned Because of Polar Bears

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Mother Nature is pulling a trick on the kids of Arviat, Canada. As Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) tells us, the effects of global warming caused the town to ban trick-or-treating this Halloween. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins