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Ice Atlas Animates the Great Lakes


Example image from NOAA's Ice Atlas: Map of Great Lakes, with multi-colored regions depicting ice coverge

A sample image from NOAA's Great Lakes Ice Atlas Web page.

Last March satellite imagery showed that Lake Superior had the largest ice cover since 1997. It was almost completely frozen over, an infrequent occurrence. You can't see this on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Great Lakes Ice Atlas Web page yet, but you can watch over 30-winter's worth of daily ice information animate a computer screen. The atlas offers raw data but also conveniently converts it into visual progressions of time depicting where and when ice is formed on the Great Lakes.

The atlas contains more than 1,200 digitized charts of observed ice cover over each Great Lake throughout every winter season from 1973 to 2002. It also supports three data analysis tools: (1) dates of the first and last ice, ice duration for each winter, and maximum, minimum, and average ice cover; (2) 30-year and annual daily ice cover time series; and (3) weekly statistics.

NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory staff is maintaining the Internet version of the ice atlas, which contains approximately 1.4-gigabytes of data, much of which is in compressed files. Size considerations make downloading the entire ice atlas impractical. Therefore, it is also available on CD-ROM and DVD formats. To request a copy of the CD-ROM or DVD, send an email to iceatlas.glerl@noaa.gov. This work was funded in part by NOAA’s Earth System and Data Information Management program.

By Sea Grant Staff
November 2003

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