MTRI is a non-profit co-operative with a mandate to promote sustainable use of natural resources and biodiversity conservation in the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve and beyond through research, education, and the operation of a field station.
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Nancy Lake, Queens County, Nova Scotia. Photo Credit: Amanda Lavers
People are beginning to understand how the planet's climate is changing in response to enhanced greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In Northern latitudes, scientists have noticed that the freeze-thaw cycles of the lakes are changing. Changes in ice cover on our lakes and rivers can change migration patterns and breeding seasons of birds, food supplies for all kinds of wildlife, and water temperature and chemistry. They can also effect human actvities such as trade, transportation, recreation, and tourism.
Since the effects of climate change are not the same everywhere, and the effects can vary from year to year, it is important that more data be collected from many regions over a long period of time.
One way to measure how climate change is affecting our region is to record freezing and thawing of our lakes and rivers. MTRI, with the help of community volnuteers, has launched a monitoring program that will look into changes in ice cover in our region. This network of IceWatch volunteers feeds into the national IceWatch Canada which monitors the ice cover on water bodies all over Canada!
Volunteers that live on watersides or that travel by a lake, bay of a lake, or river every day keep track of ice events throughout the winter. Make sure you observe ice with your feet on solid ground, never step on the ice to make observations.
Ice On - The first date that ice completely covers the lake, bay, or river and stays intact for the winter
Ice Off - The first date that ice goes out or dissappears from the lake, bay, or river
First complete ice - The first date that ice completely covers the waterbody, even it does not remain throughout the winter
First complete thaw - The first date that ice dissappears from the waterbody after the ice on event was recorded, even if the lake partially or completely freezes again
Partial ice cover should not be reported. You can also record the water temperatures and/or air temperatures from the shoreline on these dates if you'd like.
Click here to download your copy of MTRI's IceWatch form, or contact us for a copy of the form with a map of your lake, bay, or river. Make sure to contact us and let us know which lake you will be keeping your eyes on this winter, and if you have any questions. Don't forget to send us your data in the spring after the ice off date.