"The last bits of winter snow and ice in the Great Lakes melted in late May, according to a NOAA-GLSEA (Great Lakes Surface Environmental Analysis) tracker that uses satellite data to produce real-time daily estimates of Great Lakes ice coverage.
Before it melted, scientists collected samples of ice, snow and frosty lake water in a coordinated scientific event called Winter Grab, a research effort to assess the winter conditions of the Great Lakes and Lake St. Clair. More than a dozen teams of scientists from the U.S. and Canada participated in the inaugural event, which took place during a single week in February. The shared results will provide the first systematic baseline of winter conditions on the Great Lakes, giving important clues about how climate is affecting lake ecosystems as a whole.
Using precise scientific instruments as well as ordinary tools like ice picks, slotted spoons and plastic jugs, decentralized teams across all five lakes drilled their way through the ice to collect water samples, measure underwater light levels and gather plankton and other microorganisms. The data will help them better understand ice properties, water chemistry and lake biology, as well as help them determine how the lakes are influenced by the changing climate."