MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- Experts warn of climate change impacts to the local ecosystem, as they highlight fewer months to spend on Lake Mendota’s ice cover.
Lake Mendota froze over three weeks later than what's typical, according to a limnology expert.
According to John Magnuson, professor of limnology at the UW-Madison, Lake Mendota froze over on January 12. He said this was three weeks later than what’s typical, adding this is one of the latest or “more extreme” dates of initial ice cover.
This mark comes as ice cover duration has gotten shorter over time. Magnuson said in the 1850s, Lake Mendota averaged five months of ice cover. In recent decades, the duration has been about four months.
Pete Hupf, an ice fishing guide at Best Dam Bait in Beaver Dam, says this news means fewer opportunities for him to be on ice. He said it is “tough to see.”
“[Ice fishing] it’s one of my favorite things to do,” Hupf said. “I just wait for first ice, and I can’t get enough of it when it’s here.”
He said he remembers ice fishing when he was younger-- the lake froze earlier, and the season was longer.
But things could change even more for Hupf in his lifetime.
Magnuson forecasts that in the next 30 years Lake Mendota will experience a year without complete ice cover. If predicted correctly, this event would be the first in the lake’s 170-year history.
“It’s global warming. Simple as that,” Magnuson said. “Eventually we think that if we don’t turn off this global warming, there will come years where it never freeze year after year after year.”
While Hupf says he’ll be taking advantage of the days on ice, Magnuson says countries must work together to control fossil fuels.