Lake Ice Monitoring

Polar View’s lake ice monitoring service delivers information about the location and extent of lake ice cover for a variety of purposes. The service also improves transportation safety, as frozen lakes are an important component of northern transportation networks.

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Importance of Lake-Ice Monitoring

Polar View’s lake ice monitoring service delivers Earth Observation derived information about the location and extent of ice covers to decision makers in near real-time. Used in conjunction with other data sources, this information is used to assess the level of threat posed by the freezing and melting of lakes.

As a result of global warming, the difficulties that a shorter or more unpredictable ice season brings to isolated northern communities have become a recent concern.

Assessing Various Factors

There are a number of factors that contribute to the duration of ice cover, including preciptation, wind, sunshine, and various attributes of the water body itself, such as size and characteristics of its currents.

The timing of ice break-up in the spring is more variable because the amount of snow cover and coldness of the preceding winter also play a role.

Air temperature affects both the freeze-up and the break-up dates, changes in the timing of these events allow for a good reflection of trends in temperatures.

Impacts on Ecosystems and Resources

Presence and thickness of lake ice has a significant impact on fish ecology, particularly in terms of over-wintering habitats for certain species.

The formation and thickness of ice in specific rivers and lakes has a significant impact on the existence and sustainable harvesting of arctic char as large quantities of char over-winter in the lakes, migrating to the sea in the summer.

The long-term possibilities of year-to-year monitoring of ice presence and thickness are also being explored in order to address the information needs of managers and scientists monitoring the effects of climate change.