Become a Citizen Scientist!

It’s that time of year again. Thin sheets of ice are forming around the edges of ponds and lakes, leaving less open water and reminding us that winter is around the corner.While you’re waiting for your favorite water body to freeze and skating and hockey season to begin, take a moment to contribute to our understanding of climate change.

Help scientists understand the effects of climate change by participating in IceWatch, a citizen science program that allows Canadians of all ages to participate in discovering how – and more importantly, why – our natural environment is changing.

As citizen scientists, IceWatch volunteers record the freeze and thaw dates of lakes, ponds and other water bodies. Once those records are submitted online, they are used by scientists to gain a better understanding of climate change.

Why monitor ice events?

Ice phenology — the freeze and thaw dates of water bodies in northern climates — is a good measure of how aquatic ecosystems are responding to climate change. Seasonal differences in the ice cover of lakes and rivers can have serious impacts on Canadian ecosystems. The changes can alter migration patterns and breeding seasons for birds, and food supplies for fish and mammals.

By analyzing citizen records, scientists have found that the freeze-thaw cycles of northern water bodies are changing. However, since climate change is not consistent across the country and there are large gaps in the current monitoring network, scientists require critical data from many more regions.

That’s where your observations are critical. A citizen network of ice-watchers spread throughout Canada can help supply that information. Ice events — the freeze and thaw dates — are easily recorded yearly changes that, with your assistance, can help us monitor the effects of climate change on Canadian ecosystems.

Start IceWatching now by downloading an IceWatch Observation Form or Veille au gel en francais.

Ready to submit your findings? Submit now.

IceWatch is administered through a partnership between Nature Canada and Environment Canada’s Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network Coordinating Office (EMAN CO).