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Global Warming, El Nino Responsible for Lack of Ice Cover on Lakes

By Mark Scott


Buffalo, NY – Many lakes across the northern portion of the country have failed to develop an ice cover this year. And a University at Buffalo professor says one of the largest, Lake Erie, may not even freeze this winter.

Dr. Kenton Stewart is professor emeritus of biological sciences at UB. He maintains what could be the largest scientific inventory of the dates hundreds of lakes freeze over. Stewart says there are two reasons why lakes aren't forming their usual ice cover this year -- global warming and unusually strong El Nino.

Through early January, warmer than normal temperatures kept Lake Erie from freezing. And while Buffalo has been in the grip of sub-freezing temperatures for much of the past week, Stewart says it will have to stay this way for Lake Erie to freeze this winter.

But Stewart monitors more than just big lakes. He's been keeping an eye on two man-made lakes on the University at Buffalo North Campus that are collectively known as Lake LaSalle. The lakes have frozen every year for the past 25 years that Stewart has studied them. And because of the recent cold spell, Stewart says they finally froze over last week.