What is happening?
River ice is disappearing earlier on many New Brunswick rivers (for more information, see the Hydrometric Trend Analysis, leading to earlier spring flooding events.
The date that the Kennebecasis River becomes free of ice has been observed since 1825. From 1825-1884, ice out typically occurred between April 10th and 30th. No observations were taken between 1885 and 1910. In the 1900s, ice out typically occurred in April, and rarely in March or May. During the last hundred years, there has been a trend toward earlier ice out dates. For example, five of the six earliest ice out dates occurred between 1999-2011.
Together, these indicators reveal that the ice period is disappearing earlier on New Brunswick's rivers.
Why is it important?
River ice is important for ice fishing, snowmobiling, and ecosystems. However, ice jam floods often cause sudden massive increases in water levels resulting in severe flood damages. In New Brunswick, approximately 70% of recorded flood damages are caused by ice-related floods.
What is predicted to happen?
Warmer temperatures are expected to lead to earlier melting of ice on New Brunswick's rivers, earlier breakup, and an increased probability of ice jam flooding.
Environment Canada, New Brunswick Department of Environment, University of New Brunswick Environment & Sustainable Development Research Centre, Harvey Brock, Geoffrey Sayre, Ellen Steeves, and Jane Barry