Earth Imaging Journal: Remote Sensing, Satellite Images, Satellite Imagery
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February 14, 2014
Lake Erie Ice Thickest in Decades

The intense cold snap that gripped much of central Canada and the United States in early January 2014 brought thick and widespread ice to the Great Lakes.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired imagery of Lake Erie in the early afternoon of Jan. 9, 2014. This view shows Lake Erie in natural color.

This image shows a blend of shortwave infrared, near infrared and red (MODIS bands 7-2-1) that helps distinguish ice from snow and water. Ice is pale blue (thicker ice is brighter), open water is navy, and snow is blue-green.

Though parts of the lakes freeze every winter, several news media and meteorologist accounts suggested that January ice cover was thicker and more widespread than it has been in nearly two decades. The ice cover was hampering ship traffic in the region, according to news reports.

On Jan. 9, Lake Erie was reported to be 90 percent ice covered, and nearly one-quarter of the surface area of the five Great Lakes was covered. Since Jan. 9, it appears the ice has pulled back a bit, as temperatures have returned to normal and even above normal in some areas. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab reported 88 percent ice cover on Jan. 12 and 62 percent on Jan. 14.

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