Lack of ice on Lake Ontario a sign of the times, Queen's University professor says

WATCH: The new normal means less lake ice, one Queen's University professor tells Global News.

It’s a part of what many are calling the new normal.

The lack of lake ice is another example of climate change, and that may not be a good thing when it comes to shoreline erosion. John Smol is a professor in the biology department at Queen’s University and Canada Research Chair of Environmental Change.

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“Lake ice is definitely decreasing across many lakes in the northern hemisphere and Lake Ontario is one of them,” Smol said.

“And that’s one of the more obvious symptoms of climate warming.”

If climate change was a book, the lack of lake ice would be another chapter in an ever-growing publication, Smol says, and examples are all around us.

These, he says, are definitely different times.

“We’ve entered … what we call a new normal,” he said. “We’re entering this new world of a greenhouse world and there are going to be many consequences, many of which we don’t fully understand.

“When we do finally study them, almost all of them seem to be negative.”

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Global News caught up with longtime Kingston resident Marilyn Ashford at the boat launch at Ontario and West streets. She says it’s there where the Kingston side of the old ice bridge began.

“It was just a road across to Wolfe Island and I think I remember trees, a tree line we would drive across,” she said.

“And then we would drive across Wolfe to Simcoe, where we had our cottage.”

But those days are long gone, at least when it comes to driving a car across the ice. As for other negatives, Smol says erosion along the lakeshore is another big concern.

“We can get some pretty strong winds as we know in the winter,” Smol explained. “If you have lake ice, that certainly dampens or totally eliminates wave action that could be hitting the local lakeshore.

“Without the lake ice we would be getting much more erosion and issues like that.”

If there’s one positive — at least for some — it’s a longer shipping season, the Queen’s professor said.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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