Mild season led to low ice cover on the Great Lakes Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory shows the extent of ice cover across the Great Lakes on March 3, 2021.
By the time this photograph was captured, ice covered 15 percent of the lakes’ surfaces. This was a major drop in the extent of ice cover compared to just two weeks prior, when the ice was near the season’s maximum extent of 46.5 percent. North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be described as the northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea, and to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean. Because it is on the North American Tectonic Plate, Greenland is included as part of North America geographically. North America covers an area of about 24,709,000 square kilometers (9,540,000 square miles), about 16.5% of the Earth’s land area and about 4.8% of its total surface. North America is the third-largest continent by area, following Asia and Africa,
According to NASA, the annual formation, movement, and timing of ice cover on the Great Lakes is temperamental, changing substantially with shifts in weather and climate patterns. The 2020-2021 winter season was characterized by wild swings in the weather, which was reflected in ice cover across the Great Lakes.
Jia Wang, an ice climatologist at NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, noted that this year’s maximum ice cover this year was near the 1973-2020 average of 53 percent.
However, Wang said that despite a cold snap in February, it was a low ice year. For example,, Lake Erie had one of the lowest amounts of ice cover on record through mid-January as a result of unseasonably mild temperatures.
Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory
By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer