Monday, March 30, 2009

Going, going...gone?

It's ice-out season - finally, after a long winter. The US Geological Survey has studied ice-out timing for many lakes across New England and they have a site where you can click a lake to see its historical record of ice out dates, here. Today is Julian Day 89 of 2009; how is a lake in your area doing compared to the historical record?

Who cares about ice out? Well, it turns out that the timing of spring melt tells us a lot about changes in the environment. USGS researchers based here in Maine report that the timing of spring melt has been a bit earlier over the past 150 years (summary here). The researchers suggest that earlier ice-out is an indicator of climate change, inferring that increased air temperature is responsible for earlier melt. A hundred and fifty years. Now that's some pretty long-term monitoring - which is just what we need to find out more about the subtle changes in the environment that can add up to patterns we can see.

Maine lakes have been around for a long, long time and they provide us with lots of information about long-term changes. A UMaine scientist was part of a recent paper that noted how information about lake sediments and water level data make lakes "Sentinels of Change" worldwide.

What's your local sentinel doing right now? Is the ice around the margins disappearing? Is mud season here already?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Getting to know the new office

Many of the MLCI board members got to see the new office yesterday. It's located on Maine St. in Belgrade Lakes, and has a view of one of the lakes. Here's a sneak peek of the street view, before we moved in (stay tuned for further developments):

Really, though, MLCI's 'office' is the Melinda Ann - the boat where much of the programming goes on. Whether exploring the lake bottom with our remote-controlled submarine or collecting water and benthic samples from the lake, MLCI's boat program offers students a new window into the health of the lake they love to use for swimming, boating, and fishing. Our program introduces students to the basics of lake science, watershed ecology, and issues affecting water quality.

For more information about the boat program or to get on the schedule, contact our Lake Science Educator, Phil Mulville at or call us at 207-495-2222 for further details.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

MLCI's new office

MLCI's operations have moved to a new office in Belgrade Village. Belgrade Village is a great little town, nestled in an area rich with lakes, streams, and wetlands. According to the official community website, there are five lakes, but PEARL includes a few more that are nearby. The lakes range from big ones like Great Pond (8500 acres) to little, unnamed ponds of only an acre or so.

Unfortunately, one of the lakes (as of 2007) had a documented infestation of variable milfoil, an invasive aquatic plant. You can see a map of such infestations here. Some of the activities MLCI has conducted related to aquatic invasives are documented on the Students' Portal. Nobleboro Central School did a neat project figuring out how much of their local lake might be covered if Eurasian milfoil were to invade.

Stay tuned to hear more about MLCI's programs as the spring season gets into full swing.