Catherine O'Reilly '94 Quantifies Effects Of Global Warming On Loss Of Ice On Lakes

February 5, 2019
By The New York Times

Global warming is melting glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica, but for millions of people, ice is vanishing closer to home as lakes lose their winter cover.

In a study published last week in the journal Nature Climate Change, scientists for the first time quantified the effects of rising temperatures on ice cover across 1.4 million lakes in the Northern Hemisphere. They found that, from Wisconsin to Japan, thousands of lakes that used to freeze reliably every winter already see some years without ice, and that “an extensive loss of lake ice will occur within the next generation.”

The vanishing ice will affect cold-water ecosystems and be felt by millions of people who live near northern lakes, the study said.

“Ice cover acts as a temperature reset for a lake every winter,” said Catherine O’Reilly, an associate professor of geology at Illinois State University and a co-author of the study.

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