Great Lakes ice cover forecasts: New approach enables local predictions

phys.org | 4/9/2019 | Staff
trainman (Posted by) Level 3


Highly localized and accurate Great Lakes ice cover forecasts have been demonstrated by researchers at the University of Michigan, and their predictive modeling tool can be adapted for any geographic region.

The team developed the approach working closely with officials at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore on Lake Superior in Wisconsin. The park is home to majestic ice caves that are only accessible in some winters when it's safe for visitors to walk across the ice of the frozen lake.

Forecasts - Climate - Change - Roller - Coaster

Such localized forecasts would be useful more broadly as climate change brings a roller coaster of weather variability to many parts of the world, including those who live along, play in and make their living from the world's largest surface source of freshwater.

"These models could be useful not only for supporting safe pedestrian traffic on ice in coastal areas of the Great Lakes, but for large and small-craft vessel navigation, fishing and hunting, and other human activities around the world," said Richard Rood, professor of climate and space sciences and engineering, and co-author of a paper on the new model published in Climatic Change.

Approach - Months - September - Perhaps—whether - Ice

The new approach can reliably predict months in advance—in September, perhaps—whether ice will form in a given winter, as well as the timing of ice onset. Many previous efforts have focused on ice cover on the lake as a whole. By focusing on a small area, it is possible to find relationships between weather and local conditions that make ice formation possible, even in years when conditions are not supportive of lake-wide ice formation.

U-M's project arose out of a comment made during a climate-change planning meeting with the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments and Apostle Islands National Lakeshore staff. GLISA is a NOAA-supported team focused on advancing climate knowledge for adaptation in the Great Lakes region, housed jointly at...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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