Study Links Loss Of Ice Cover On Lakes To Climate Change

Researchers found characteristics such as air temperature, lake depth, elevation and shoreline all affect its susceptibility to ice cover.

If the global air temperature rises by 2 degrees Celsius, the goal set by the Paris climate agreement, the number of lakes experiencing intermittent ice will double to 35,300, affecting up to 394 million people who live within one hour of the shores.

In a worst-case scenario, in which greenhouse gas emissions are not mitigated and air temperatures jump by 8 degrees Celsius, 230,400 lakes and 656 million people in 50 countries will be impacted, according to the research.

This latter case would likely push the ice-cover zone out of the United States and into northern Canada, as well as threaten the ice cover of lakes in cold Scandinavian nations.

Unpredictable winter ice cover will also affect local tradition and activity, especially in lower Wisconsin, Magnuson said.

"People who are interested in winter recreation and ice carnivals and things of that nature will begin to find that they have to pay more attention to what the lake is doing," Magnuson said.

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