Severe Ice Cover on Great Lakes During Winter 2008–2009



The North American Great Lakes contain about 95% of the fresh surface water supply for the United States and 20% for the world. Nearly one eighth of the population of the United States and one third of the population of Canada live within their drainage basins. Because of this concentration of population, the ice cover that forms on the Great Lakes each winter and its year-to-year variability affect the regional economy [Niimi, 1982]. Ice cover also affects the lake's abiotic environment and ecosystems [Vanderploeg et al., 1992] in addition to influencing summer hypoxia, lake effect snow inland, water level variability, and the overall hydrologic cycle of the region [Assel et al., 2004].