Ice Off Mendota

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).

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One of the few pieces of ice left on Mendota on March 14

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.

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Algae growing in an input to Mendota

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.

Open water means it’s almost time for the field season. Besides our routine sampling on Mendota and the northern bog lakes, we’ve got something really big planned … stay tuned for more info!

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Ducks enjoying the open water near campus

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