It’s been a mild winter here in Madison. Our lakes did freeze, but not for long – Mendota was covered in ice from January 11 to March 13, far less than in past years (Check out the Wisconsin State Climatology website for past records).
So what happens after the ice melts? Large amount of nutrients from the surrounding landscape are swept into lakes with the melting snow. Algae flourish on these extra nutrients and start off the ice-free season with rapid growth.
But this only lasts for a little while. After the algae die off, the clear water phase begins. During this time, the water clarity is at its highest, and some of our favorite freshwater bacteria such as acI become abundant.