This arctic cold spell we’re in the midst of might be bad for your nose and toes, but our treasured Minnesota lakes will benefit from the extra deep freeze.
Extended cold periods like this can build thicker ice on our lakes. Thicker ice takes longer to melt in the spring, and helps keep the water cooler longer. The warming of our climate over the last quarter century has warmed the water in our lakes, too. This causes stress for fish and bugs that evolved to thrive in cooler water, and eventually this stress could wreak havoc with the ecology of lakes.
Lake Superior shows us another benefit of more ice. The fish and other creatures that form the ecosystem of Superior’s cold, deep water rely on two other less-obvious benefits of ice cover: it reflects solar radiation, preventing more heating, and it reduces water loss through evaporation. Dropping water level is big concern for the big lake as our climate heats up.
So let it warm your heart, knowing the frigid cold is good for something.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency monitors water quality across the state and works to protect water resources. The MPCA also monitors ice-in and ice-out dates with the help of citizen volunteers.