Letter: What climate change looks like
Your recent article on Lake Sunapee (Monitor front page, Aug. 11) notes how “in the late 19th century . . . wealthy families would arrive by train and be ferried to one of a handful of remote waterfront resorts.”
This reliance on navigable water, in the absence of roads around the lake, led to close attention to “ice out” – “when a boat can navigate from George’s Mills in the north to Newbury Harbor at the southern point of Lake Sunapee.” I’m quoting from the website of the Lake Sunapee Protective Association, which was founded back in 1898.
In addition to its other activities, the LSPA maintains an ice-out data set that goes back to 1869. And in these heated debates about climate change, one thing that is lacking is data. Not fancy data derived from ice cores, tree rings or the ratio of different foraminifera species. Just when did the ice melt.
The LSPA website presents this data as a graph of the day in the year when the ice went over the last 145 years, and a superimposed line-of-best-fit or trend line. It’s down – from around the 120th day (April 30) to 108 – April 18. We’ve lost almost 2 weeks of winter.
To look at the data another way, in the first 20 years (1869-1888), the ice lasted until May 1 or later 13 times. In the past 20 years (1994-2013), it lasted into May once, in 2001. This is not random variation. This is climate change in New Hampshire.