Seeker / YouTube Why Winter Doesn 39 t Disprove 1549212937.jpg...
Seeker / YouTube

I live in Wisconsin. It has been known to get cold here. The temperature above is real, and doesn’t include windchill. When I grabbed this screen capture, there was a difference of 96 degrees Fahrenheit between the temperature outside of my house and the temperature inside it. The air actually hurts your face in just seconds when it is this cold. Of course, to the scientifically illiterate, e.g., Individual 1 and his sycophants, because it is cold in the Midwest, our climate cannot possibly be changing.

Good lord is that man an idiot. One, I am willing to bet the only time in his life he was ever in the Midwest was when he was campaigning here. And two, it is not minus 60. Maybe with a strong wind gust, we will hit that in windchill, but we are a hardy sort and can handle it. Three, the reality is that the climate is changing. On Saturday, the temperature here will reach a high of 40 degrees Fahrenheit and low of 37 degrees. The predicted temp for Sunday, when you will be reading this? About the same as Saturday. What does that prove in regard to climate change? Absolutely nothing; however, it does mean I will be wearing shorts and having a barbecue over the weekend.

The same day that Individual 1 tweeted his climate change ignorance, the University of Wisconsin Center for Limnology released a research study conducted by an international team of researchers and co-authored by John Magnuson, emeritus director of the center. This study shows that lakes in the Northern Hemisphere that normally freeze over in the winter show a trend that could have them experiencing some ice-free winters in the near future, with the possibility of there being no ice on them in the winter by the end of the century.

Currently, 15,000 lakes sit in a climate zone where they experience intermittent lake ice – some years are cold enough that the lakes freeze over and other years are warm enough that they don’t. These lakes, the researchers write, are a “harbinger of permanent ice loss.” As annual average air temperatures warm, this intermittent ice zone moves north, eventually leaving the lakes south of it looking at an ice-free future.

If the world can meet the Paris Agreement’s climate mitigation goals to limit global average temperatures to two degrees Celsius of warming, the study predicts the number of these intermittent ice lakes will increase to 35,300, potentially disrupting the winter experience and traditions of the 394 million people who live within an hour’s drive of their shores.

However, under a “worst-case” climate scenario of eight degrees Celsius warming ­(predicted by some models as the extreme case if the world does not act to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions) the number of intermittent-ice lakes jumps to 230,400, bringing lake ice impacts close to home for 656 million people spread across more than 50 countries.

What does this mean to someone living in the Upper Midwest? Well, if you want to go ice fishing, you better plan on going to Canada. Norway and Sweden would also see a change in the number of their lakes that freeze over. Pond hockey would become a thing of the past.

From 1862 through the winter of 1996, southern Wisconsin’s Lake Geneva, a prime destination for regional ice fishermen, froze over each year. But, since 1997, the lake has had four ice-free winters. Lakes from Alaska to Germany and Japan are experiencing similar trends.

For instance, over the last three decades, Japan’s Lake Suwa has only been freezing two out of every 10 years. Lake ice records here — the longest-running in the world — go back to 1400 AD and in the first 250 years that data was collected, there were only three years in which the lake did not freeze.

I grew up in Madison, a city built on four lakes: Monona, Mendota, Waubesa, and Kegonsa. I ice-skated and played hockey on the Tenney Park Lagoon. I have ice fished on Monona Bay, and I have skied across Lake Mendota. To think that someday there will be no ice on them, that the winter landscape of Wisconsin will be forever changed, is still unfathomable to me. But I know it will happen.

“Lake Mendota’s not going to suddenly have no ice and then have no ice again the next year,” [Magnuson] says. “It’s going to have increasing proportions of years with no ice. It will have good winters for ice activity and winters with no ice activity. This is going to be a gradual process.”

It will happen gradually; it will not impact me as much as it will my son, or any future grandchildren I may have. Which is why we need to act now to do all we can to prevent this from happening. It is likely too late, and as long as Trump and his anti-science, anti-facts base can be swayed into believing that climate change is not real because of a few cold days, we may have already lost our chances to fix this.

Liked it? Take a second to support Associate Editor on Patreon!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here