Life Continues Even When Lake Is Under Ice

By Rodney Rafols , Nov 30, 2016 06:45 AM EST

Winter is coming. In regions that have winter, much of life is at a standstill as many take shelter, migrate or else hibernate the winter months. Many water areas are also frozen. Yet a research shows that life continues even when a lake is under ice.

Studying frozen water areas can be dangerous. Water does not freeze evenly, and there are portions where ice could be thin. This makes it dangerous for researchers to go on the frozen water. Many also think that during this time, much of life under ice would hibernate much like some land animals do.

An international team of 62 scientists has studied 100 lakes and found that life under ice is very much active. Liz Blood, program director at the National Science Foundation's Division of Environmental Biology said that a lake doesn't go to sleep even if it is under ice and snow. Some organisms such as algae and plankton still thrive under such conditions.

A micro ecosystem is alive even when under the ice. That has been discovered by Russian researchers while studying Lake Baikal in Russia. Much of the ice can provide habitat for algae and plankton, which are necessary food sources for fish and other aquatic creatures after winter.

This micro ecosystem can be varied. Some ice can be clear, which can promote algae growth. Others have thicker ice and snow covering it, which blocks out the sun and hinder growth. The study has shown that what happens in winter can have much effect later on in the summer, when there are more aquatic creatures about, according to WSU News.

Climate change though can have different effects for lakes during winter. It is not easy to determine what those effects would be, said Stephanie Hampton, lead author of the study and a professor at Washington State University. Less snow on ice would let sunlight through the ice, which can make algae grow. Snow would cover much of the ice, which can restrict algae, as Science Daily reports.

What is evident is that life continues even when a lake is under ice. The life thriving there is essential for many aquatic creatures once the summer months come. Climate change is bringing animals into different areas, as an octopus has recently been seen in Florida.

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