New Jersey's largest freshwater lake threatened by climate change

Friday, December 13, 2019
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Lake Hopatcong, known for its year-round activities and scenic views is at the forefront of climate change as warming temperatures have stopped the lake from freezing, leading to t

LAKE HOPATCONG, New Jersey (WABC) -- -- Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey's largest freshwater lake, is a hub of activity all year round, and is beloved for ice fishing in the winter. But the effects of climate change are changing life here.

"We've certainly seen winters change overall here in our lifetime but we don't see ourselves as a Venice or Antarctica or somewhere where you see ice melting around us, so it was quite a surprise," said Marty Kane, chairman of the Lake Hopatcong Foundation, about learning just how much climate change is affecting the lake.

Over the years, warmer temperatures have stopped the lake from freezing in its entirety, leading to the cancellation of ice fishing contests and winter activities. This past summer, the lake had to close because of infestations of algae bloom.

"I've witnessed myself over the past couple of decades less and less safe ice. We have annual ice fishing contests every year and we would schedule these contests every year in January or February. In the last four years, we've scheduled 12 contests, we've only held one," said Tim Clancy, a 30-year resident at Lake Hopatcong.

According to Anthony Broccoli, professor and chairman of environmental sciences at Rutgers University, New Jersey has been warming at a relatively rapid rate.

"Over the last 50 years the temperatures in New Jersey have been going up by six-tenths of a degree Fahrenheit per decade, So over 50 years that means New Jersey is about three degrees warmer today than it was then," said Broccoli.

"Whatever is going on is accelerating. There is no longer denying it anymore; it's a matter of what are we going to do as a country, as a planet, as a world community to address this issue because it is here now," said Clancy.


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