Historically low Great Lakes ice coverage: U-M experts available

February 14, 2024


NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory reported this week that Great Lakes ice coverage has reached a historic low. The report states that Great Lakes ice coverage was measured at 2.7% on Feb. 11, a level not seen in mid-February since NOAA record-keeping began in 1973.

University of Michigan experts are available to comment.

Ayumi Fujisaki-Manome is an associate research scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research at the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability, a collaboration with NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. She is also an adjunct associate research scientist in the Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering at College of Engineering. Her areas of expertise include sea/lake ice and lake-effect snow, polar physical oceanography and numerical geophysical modeling.

“We are experiencing an anomalously warm condition this year overlaid on the long-term warming trend. A continued declining trend of ice cover is expected, along with notable year-to-year fluctuations,” she said.

“Long-term consequences include coastal erosion due to the loss of ice protection from storm surges and high waves, hazardous weather enhanced by lake effects, fewer opportunities for winter recreation reliant on ice, and changing lake ecosystems due to the loss of ice cover.”

Contact: ayumif@umich.edu

Richard Rood is professor emeritus of climate and space sciences and engineering at the College of Engineering and professor emeritus at the School for Environment and Sustainability. He is an expert on U.S. weather modeling and can discuss the connection between weather, climate and society. He is also a co-principal investigator at the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments, a federally funded partnership between U-M and Michigan State University.

“The lack of ice is one of the consequences of our rapidly warming winters in the Great Lakes region. It is easy to see, disruptive to traditions, and—because of its huge geographic extent—it registers with people,” he said.

“It is disruptive to the weather, ecosystems and people. I expect winters will continue to get warmer in the upcoming decades, and ice will be increasingly rare. The ice season of the future will be much different from the past.”

The Conversation
Open Climate

Contact: rbrood@umich.edu