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NASA Image Shows 88 Percent Ice Cover on Great Lakes: PHOTO


The polar vortex has caused record ice coverage on the Great Lakes this year.

NASA published this photo taken by its Aqua satellite on February 19, 2014:

Ice cover on North America’s Great Lakes reached 88 percent in mid-February 2014—levels not observed since 1994. The average maximum ice extent since 1973 is just over 50 percent. It has surpassed 80 percent just five times in four decades. The lowest average ice extent occurred in 2002, when only 9.5 percent of the lakes froze...

...The second, false-color image (below) uses a combination of shortwave infrared, near infrared, and red (MODIS bands 7-2-1) that helps distinguish ice from snow, water, and clouds. Ice is pale blue (thicker ice is brighter), open water is navy, snow is blue-green, and clouds are white or blue-green (depending on temperature and composition).

The polar vortex is scheduled to return next week.


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  1. lake erie is frozen and ontario isn't.
    that's because lake ontario is about four times deeper than erie. smaller surface area but a much larger volume of water.

    Posted by: woody | Feb 22, 2014 5:23:46 PM

  2. Frozen lake = no lake effect snow!

    Posted by: jvc1967 | Feb 22, 2014 5:48:54 PM

  3. yes. unfortunately, rochester keeps getting lake effect snow from unfrozen lake ontario. the shoveling is killing my wrists. we've had a meltdown the past couple of days and the birds and animals are finding some bare ground for foraging again, which is nice. but the wind is wicked.

    Posted by: woody | Feb 22, 2014 5:55:45 PM

  4. We have had an incredible amount of lake effect snow this year. I travel weekly between Alexandria Bay and Syracuse and can not count the times I have done 30 mph on Interstate 81. At least the skiing has been good this year!

    Posted by: Mark | Feb 22, 2014 6:03:19 PM

  5. And this too is Global Warming. No matter what happens, it's evidence of global warming. And I despise Alex Trebek.

    Posted by: enchantra | Feb 22, 2014 7:27:38 PM

  6. For people who haven't actually visited the great lakes; this is incredible--they're like mini oceans of fresh water, not little swimming holes and ponds. So to have them practically covered in ice is a big deal and kind of scary.

    Posted by: woodroad34d | Feb 22, 2014 7:45:41 PM

  7. Actually WOODROAD34D it isn't "scary", it's a good thing. More ice cover = less evaporation = higher lake levels. The great lakes were seriously below their average levels and THAT was scary. Plus, with all the snow that fell around the lakes and once it all melts, they say the levels will be back to normal. That is a good thing.

    Posted by: BETTY | Feb 22, 2014 8:36:27 PM

  8. See, definite controvertible evidence that the whole global warming thing is a secret worldwide conspiracy of thousands of scientists that is so airtight that not a single one has blabbed. Probably because of death threats from UNESCO or something. Maybe Jews.

    Posted by: emjayay | Feb 22, 2014 10:29:41 PM

  9. @woody It is not Ontario's depth that typically keeps its surface from fully freezing. Superior is nearly twice as deep on average with 7.5 times the volume, yet nearly always ices over. Water doesn't flow into the Lakes, it flows out of them. As the St. Lawrence headwaters, Superior is mostly stagnant coupled with being very deep and large, it stays quite chilly. Being downriver from the Niagara outflow with a steepening downgrade and shaped like a channel, Ontario keeps its waters moving, especially at the surface and towards the middle.

    Wikipedia is not your friend, the "fact" you are citing is that "because of its great depth, the lake *as a whole* never freezes in winter". Outside of puddles in the Arctic, most lakes don't freeze completely. Ontario does ice over but more because of restricted surface flow from its sisters.

    Posted by: Quicksilver | Feb 22, 2014 11:25:00 PM

  10. Encuntra, it's "global climate change". Do try to keep up.

    Posted by: D.R.H. | Feb 23, 2014 6:07:13 AM

  11. DRH - Forgive me.

    Posted by: enchantra | Mar 1, 2014 9:58:31 PM

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