Great Lakes ice cover surpasses 88 percent

(Image: NASA)

(Image: NASA)

Ice cover on the Great Lakes reached 88 percent this month for the first time in a decade, according to NASA’s Earth Observatory.

Since 1973, average ice cover of the lakes has been just more than 50 percent. It has only exceeded 80 percent five times in the past 40 years.

This image of the Great Lakes was taken by NASA’s Aqua satellite on February 19, 2014. NASA reported that NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory put ice cover at just over 80 percent.

Ice cover on the lakes impacts snowfall, as well as water levels in the warmer seasons. Ice prevents water from evaporating as much as it would otherwise in the winter, according to NASA.

Lake Erie is often the first lake to freeze because it is the shallowest. Lake Ontario often takes the longest because it is the furthest from cold weather of the northwest of the region.