Future alterations to the present day lake ice cover as a result of changing climate conditions could impact the role of lakes in the Arctic. Energy flux, ecology and biogeochemical processes in cold regions are influenced by lake ice; changes in the future will alter the balance of these regimes. Additionally, the freshwater held in Arctic lake systems is a vital component of the Arctic hydrological cycle, and changes can severely effect neighbouring environments. The expected imbalance associated with climate change is predicted to transform the entire hydrological cycle in the Arctic by altering ice seasonality on lakes, rivers and the ocean.
A shortened ice covered season will have a detrimental effect on the duration and stability of the winter ice roads in northern Canada, which are generally used as supply routes. A 13% loss of access to the northern areas is predicted, many of these areas are currently only accessible via ice roads in the winter season (Stephenson et al. 2011).
Material on this page was provided by Laura Brown and Maren Pauly (both Department of Geography, University of Waterloo). Hover over image for photograph credit.