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Does Lake Erie ice cover affect our winter snowfall?

Student(s):Carly Bly,Hannah Crawford,Devin Dellinger,Nolan Flowers,Xander Goodman,Hunter Holstein,Jayden Kinney,Brittany Mazariegos,Sadie Nawalaniec,Janel Norman,Angela Olivare
Grade Level:Upper Primary (grades 3-5, ages 8-11)
GLOBE Educator(s):Marcy Burns
Report Type(s):Standard Research Report
Protocols:Surface Temperature, Precipitation, Clouds
Date Submitted:05/01/2013
Screen capture from presentation
Snowy winters mean more snow days for fifth graders at Main Street School. For the second year in a row, we have had very little snowfall to measure when doing our GLOBE protocols. We wanted to know how ice cover on Lake Erie affects our winter snowfall. We hypothesized that less ice on Lake Erie would cause more evaporation and more snowfall. We looked carefully at climate data for the winter months during 1972-2013 and Lake Erie ice cover data. We concluded that our temperatures stay colder throughout the winter and we get more snow when there is more ice on the lake. Lake Erie does not affect how much snow we get in our town. The moisture must come from somewhere else.


Hey, good job! I like very much your work. My name is Martina, I am a student from French School, Argentina.
My question is: Do you think that the anticyclone affects the lake zone?
Thank you!
Hi. My name is Sydnee. We were not sure what anticyclone means, so we asked a scientist. The cities on the east end of Lake Erie get a large amounts of snow from air moving across the lake when it is not frozen. We do not get much snow from that.
What was the most surprising thing that you learned as you performed your research?

If you were to repeat your research, what would you do differently and why?

Is there any other variable that may help explore your research question?
My name is Carly. I am a student in Ms. Burns's class. We worked in groups to talk about your questions today. We were very surprised by learning that the waste water treatment plant in our town has been reporting weather data to the National Weather Service since 1894. That is over 100 years! We were also surprised by how much the precipitation and temperatures change from year to year. Looking at the average over 30 years is better data. Lake Erie affects our temperatures not our precipitation.

If we were to repeat our research we would try to find more cloud data to compare with the greatest and least ice years. Our GLOBE cloud data was very little. We would also look at Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and Lake Huron ice cover because they are to the west of us.

Another variable that we could look at could be air currents and wind patterns as they move across the USA and the Great Lakes.
Those are some great ideas, and I'm glad you got together in groups to discuss the questions - sometimes the best projects come out of group discussions!

I really hope you continue your research to explore one of the great ideas you have. And be sure to continue to collect your cloud data so that you continue to build the record for your school!
I would also say good job. You have nice pictures of yourselves and a nice satellite image to illustrate your location in the context of your research project. You are good at thinking; I particularly like your answers to the earlier questions asked.

By the way, MODIS is an instrument flying on NASA's EOS Terra and Aqua satellites.

You mention that the cities on the eastern end of Lake Erie get considerable snow fall when the lake is less frozen in winter; Does this suggest an additional research project for the future?
My name is Sadie. Thank you for your comments. Our class will still like to know what affects the amount of snowfall that we get in our town. We learned in our project that Lake Erie does not affect how much snow we get. We would like to know where our moisture comes from because we get more now then in the past.
I would like to complement you on creating a good research question and working through a well organized data analysis process to answer it. Thank you for sharing.

I am wondering if you may have come up with a different answer if your school was located on a different part of Lake Erie? For instance, if you were located across the lake on the northeast corner, do you think things might be different?

I also am interested to find out if you ever pursue the question for further investigation looking at if the groundhog's predictions correspond with ice cover on Lake Erie!
Lake Erie is big! We know that Cleveland, OH andBuffalo, NY get tons of lake affect snow on the east end. The north side of the lake is probably colder because it is farther north, but the wind has to blow across the water to dump a lot of snow.
Our classmate Xander is very interested in looking at groundhog predictions and lake ice. We can keep you posted.
Thank you for sharing your research. You've done a nice job combining GLOBE observations and other data sources. Seems like there may some budding scientists in your class!