Nature Note - Ice Cover Report

Satellite image of Lake Champlain from January 24, 2014 showing extensive ice cover.

The area of open water on Lake Champlain has been steadily closing with the frigid winter we have had. Birder Ian Worley reported that the ice front moved northward 18 miles between January 22 and January 24, from near D.A.R. State Park in Addison, Vermont to New York's Split Rock area. Birders are attracted to the ice edge to search for unusual ducks or gulls. At Kingsland Bay recently, the inner portion of the bay was covered with large sheets of pancake ice cemented at angles with each other, while the outer bay had clear sheet ice. Lake Champlain hasn’t frozen over completely since 2007. Might it happen this year?

Cold temperatures lead to expansion of ice sheets and tension between the already locked water molecules. The tension can produce odd sounds. Andreas Bick, a composer and sound artist, recorded the sounds of the ice sheet on a lake in Berlin, Germany sounding eerily similar to the weapons of the Star Wars battle ships. Loud snaps can occur when a slight amount of pressure, such as from a person walking on the ice, is added to tense ice.