Saturday, January 6, 2024

Where’s winter?

Pond hockey and skating on Holcomb Pond in the Sentinel Wilderness area of the Adirondacks, near Lake Placid.

Last winter in the Adirondacks saw relatively mild temperatures and unstable ice. By February 2023, one skater said he would have traversed 200 miles of ice by then. But conditions caused Dan Spada, a retired supervisor in the natural resources department at the state Adirondack Park Agency, to lose about a fourth of that mileage.

Lake Champlain, a favorite wild ice skating spot of Spada’s, has yet to fully freeze this winter, he said. Human-caused climate change is spiking temperatures across the globe, leading to thin ice and rainy winters in climes like the Adirondacks.

The park, along with the entire Northeast, is already feeling the effects of climate change.

Fewer days with ice, snow and the freezing temperatures needed to sustain the conditions is hurting more than beloved pastimes like skating. Warmer temperatures open a broader window for forest insect pests to move north, harming trees and local ecosystems that depend on them.

Cultural changes are also underway.

Climate scientist Curt Stager told me recently that the Adirondacks will need to find more ways to sustain its economy outside of winter tourism as the climate changes.

“A lot of our identity comes from being able to say that we’ve had winter Olympics here and winter sports and it distinguishes us from mountain communities farther south beginning to change,” said Stager, a professor at Paul Smith’s College.

Click here to revisit my story on wild ice skating and climate change.



The Ausable River Association wrote about the changing ice-in dates on Mirror Lake in Lake Placid.

Using data compiled since 1903, the organization found that ice-on occurs on average nearly two weeks later than it did in 1903. This year, the lake was considered frozen on Dec. 22. It’s the latest date since the 1990s, according to their data.

Read their findings here.

And here’s more on their long-term work at Mirror Lake.



Here are some climate stories I’m following:

AP: Biden administration grants Louisiana power to approve carbon capture wells

“Opponents argue that prolonging the life of a polluting industry will harm people who live nearby, which are too often poorer, minority residents.”

Canary Media: Could 2024 be a breakout year for the transmission grid?

“Study after study has found the country can’t build renewable energy at the pace needed to rapidly decarbonize the power grid without also building a massive amount of new power lines, fast.”

“But over the past half-decade, grid growth has slowed, not accelerated, bogged down by conflicts over siting, permitting and paying for new transmission capacity.”

Mongabay: False claims of U.N. backing see Indigenous groups cede forest rights for sketchy finance

Companies promising “life-changing benefits” have presented Indigenous communities with deals to commodify millions of acres of forest in Peru, Bolivia and Panama. Read Mongabay’s investigation at the link above.

Grist: Berkeley’s gas ban is all but dead. What does that mean for other cities?

“The legal uncertainty created by the Berkeley decision especially impacts smaller communities that may not have the staff and financial resources to take on potential litigation.”

NYT: Canada’s Logging Industry Devours Forests Crucial to Fighting Climate Change

“Researchers led by a group from Griffith University in Australia found that since 1976 logging in the two provinces has caused the removal of 35.4 million acres of boreal forest, an area roughly the size of New York State.”

Speaking of the boreal forest: Read and view this photo series by The Narwhal of restoration efforts by the Fort Nelson First Nation to protect the habitat of boreal caribou.


There was (finally) some cold winter weather here in the High Peaks this week. Below is the sky and the temperature from this morning [Jan. 5].

Photo of sky with trees and 8 degree temperature

Photo by Chloe Bennett.


Photo at top: Pond hockey and skating on Holcomb Pond in the Sentinel Wilderness area of the Adirondacks, near Lake Placid. Photo by Nancie Battaglia.

This first appeared in Chloe’s weekly “Climate Matters” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

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Chloe Bennett is a climate change reporter based in Lake Placid, NY. Originally from North Texas, Chloe has always been drawn to the natural world. In 2022, she graduated from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY where she focused on environmental reporting and audio production. She grew a deep appreciation for the Adirondack Park while interning for the Explorer in the summer of 2022.

One Response

  1. s a says:

    Another well researched, factual & well written article that provides useful context for the reader to understand this important topic. Well done, once again, Chloe. More of this, please.

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