Opportunities / Science

Welcome Back, Open Water

Spring finds its way to the shores of Lake Elmore

Spring finds its way to the shores of Lake Elmore

Hearing the highly anticipated trill of a red-wing blackbird for the first time each year is a harbinger of warmer days to come. However, seeing into the depths of open water after months of ice and snow-covered lakes, ponds, and rivers is a welcome sign that spring has surely arrived.

Tracking the exact date, and for some, even time of that long-awaited thaw can help ease us through mud season, those unpredictable and sometimes disheartening weeks when winter slowly releases its hold on the landscape and waterways in fits and starts.  During these times, one simply takes comfort in the lengthening days and thinks, “Surely it has got to get warmer!”

Beyond the entertainment and sometimes cash value of predicting ice-out (a handful of lake associations now run ice-out contests as fundraisers for their lake stewardship work), ice-out dates are also valuable climate indicators.

The Watershed Management and Air Quality and Climate Divisions maintain records of ice-out (and ice-in, the earliest date in which a lake freezes over and stays frozen for the remainder of the season), which help us better understand the impacts of climate change in Vermont.

At last, the long-awaited warmth of spring has arrived, and the sun’s intense rays are quickly freeing lakes and ponds of their ice.  Please help us track ice-out and climate change in Vermont by sending your ice-out (and ice-in) dates, along with your contact information and a brief explanation of how you define ice-out, to bethany.sargent@state.vt.us.  Thanks and happy spring!