Climate Change

The following is extracted from a web page on the Ausable River Association  ,

There are substantial changes occurring to lakes across the northern hemisphere as a result of climate change. Temperature, duration of stratification, and ice cover are all changing. This is affecting the organisms that live in the lakes, everything from the phytoplankton to fish.

Mirror Lake has one of the the longest ice records in New York State. Residents in the Village of Lake Placid have been recording the ice cover since 1903, with only a handful of years missing since that time. This record has appeared in national publications regarding changes in ice cover. Since 2015, AsRA has taken up the maintenance of this record as part of our ongoing work to study and understand Mirror Lake.

Basic Statistics

Ice On

There has been a significant change in ice on over the period of record. Today, ice on occurs on average 18 days later than it did in 1903. The mean date for ice on for the entire record is December 3rd. The mean since 2000 is December 13th.

Ice Off

There is no significant change if ice off over the period of record. The mean date for ice off is April 21st.

Duration of Ice Cover

There has been a significant reduction in the duration of ice cover over the period of record. Today, the duration of ice cover is on average 26 days shorter than it was in 1903. The shorter duration of ice cover is driven primarily by later ice on. The mean duration of ice cover over the entire record is 139 days. The mean duration since 2000 is 122 days. The shortest duration of ice cover occurred in 2016, with just 84 days of ice cover. This is 12 days shorter than the next shortest duration, which was 96 days in 2012.

Research has shown that warming water temperatures and prolonged stratification are a threat to Lake Trout across their native range. The changes observed in the Mirror Lake ice record reflect similar changes observed across North America. These changes represent a potential change in the habitat suitability for cold water fish, such as Lake Trout. These changes, along with the interruption of spring turnover due to road salt, are one of several reasons why understanding the ecology of this vitally important lakes is necessary.