IceWatch is part of a suite of national volunteer monitoring programs designed to help identify ecological changes that may be affecting our environment. IceWatch allows Canadians of all ages to participate in discovering how — and more importantly, why — our natural environment is changing.
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. Ice cover also affects water quality, trade, transport, outdoor recreation and tourism.
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. 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.