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Ice Covers the Great Lakes
This page contains archived content and is no longer being updated. At the time of publication, it represented the best available science. However, more recent observations and studies may have rendered some content obsolete.
With spring just a few weeks away, the North American Great Lakes are still locked in winter. This image from March 9, 2003, shows ice almost completely covering several lakes, including the largest lake—Lake Superior—at upper left. Just left of image center, Lake Michigan shows a ring of ice around its shores and at its northern end, while to the east, Lake Huron is almost completely covered. South of Huron, Lake Erie is veiled by thin clouds, but through the clouds, ice is visible covering all but the northern parts of the lake. To the northeast, Lake Ontario appears relatively ice-free beneath the clouds.
Ice cover on Lake Erie is not uncommon, since it is the shallowest of all the lakes, but the big lakes—Superior and Huron—rarely freeze completely over; the big freeze has interrupted shipping and ferry lanes in the region. Ice experts from the Canadian Ice Service were quoted in media reports as saying it may be April before the ice thaws completely.
The high-resolution image provided above is 500 meters per pixel. The MODIS Rapid Response System provides this image at MODIS’ maximum spatial resolution of 250 meters.