Category Archives: Lake Environment

Lake Water Quality Monitoring Resumes for 2022

Clary Transparency

Kelsie French and I resumed our water quality monitoring efforts for 2022 on Saturday May 14th, a little later than originally planned due to circumstances which all seemingly conspired to keep us off the lake. We’re back in the saddle now however and plan to visit Clary’s deepest spot to collect data every couple of weeks this season. Continue reading

02 March 2022: Ice Berms & Pressure Ridges

With all the attention on Clary Lake ice this spring, it seems fitting to post this article I’ve been working on for awhile, yet another in our Continuing Education Series, based on the premise that informed people make better Lake Stewards! This post is on Ice Berms and Pressure Ridges and the science behind them and will be added under the Programs & Education menu heading.

IMG_1150_compressedI received a few inquiries about ice berms and pressure ridges in response to my post about February water levels so I thought I’d provide a little more information about these interesting phenomena and the science behind them. Imagine the forces at work that were responsible for the buckled ice in the photo at left! First we need to learn more about how water changes and what happens to it as its temperature changes.

Water becomes more dense (heavier) as its temperature drops, causing it to sink below warmer water: cold water sinks and warm water rises. We all know this much from going swimming and encountering that cold layer of water 4-5 feet below the surface. As its temperature drops, water continues to become more dense and continues sinking below warmer water until it gets down to about 39° F. Then something unexpected happens:  as the water cools, the molecular motion continues to slow down and as the water starts to assume the crystalline lattice structure that is ice, the distance between the molecules actually increases. The freezing water, rather than continuing to become denser, actually begins to expand, becoming less dense, causing it to float (it is this expansion as it freezes that ends up breaking water pipes). By the time water reaches its freezing temperature of 32° F (0° C) and changes to ice, it has expanded approximately 9% from its maximum density and a complete inversion from the usual summertime temperature stratification takes place. In the winter when the lake is ice covered, the coldest water is right under the ice and the temperature rises as depth increases so the warmest (and densest) water is at the bottom of the lake. This is completely opposite of what we see in the summer time with the warmest water at the surface and the coldest water at the bottom. Continue reading

01 April 2022: Unidentified Animal Sighted on Clary Lake

I spotted this Clary Lake critter this morning when I was out checking my rain gauge. At first I thought it was a goose but the sound it made wasn’t goose-like at all. Sounded more like… I dunno. It was weird. It didn’t stick around. Fortunately I was able to find a picture of it in the webcam archive. Anyone have any idea what this is?

25 April 2021: Diminishing ice cover on Maine’s lakes could impact fish populations

Lake Auburn. This picture links to the article.

Here on Clary Lake we haven’t been keeping ice in and ice out records for long enough to see a shortening of the iced-in period. Our records go back to 2001 and in that time, there’s no obvious trend but over significantly longer periods (many decades and longer) it’s clear that Maine winters are gradually becoming milder and anyone who’s lived around here for more than a few years can testify to that fact. This article in the Kennebec Journal discusses some of the impacts of shorter iced-in periods on Maine Lakes.

12 April 2021 PSA: Mind Your Docks!

September 2013 picture of Art Enos’s dock. It just so happens his dock did NOT have floating decking but if it had, it would have floated away!

Despite it being early April, many people have already put in their docks this year, perhaps because the lake is relatively low for this time of year, or they just want to get a jump on the boating season. Like who doesn’t? However, most of the docks I’ve seen are just barely clear of the water. The lake is currently only 0.17 feet (2 inches) below the HWM, much lower than it’s been the past two years on this date. While it’s been relatively dry so far this year, it is not unreasonable to expect significant spring rains at any time. If that happens the lake could easily rise 3-4 inches (or more!) almost overnight and flood the docks. If your dock is of the stationary (not floating) kind and if your decking is of the unattached floating variety, you might want to make sure to attach it to the frame so it doesn’t float away. Zip ties work well for this or use some clothes line or something similar to tie the decking down.

29 March 2021: Clary Lake Ice Out Videos

Some years, ice out on Clary Lake can be pretty dramatic and I like to put together videos using photos from our webcams. Here are two such videos from this year. The first one, from Clary_cam3 includes pictures from one day, March 27th. The second from Clary_cam1 includes pictures from 3 consecutive days starting March 25th and ending at nightfall on the 28th. You can watch them on the website, but I recommend you view them full screen on YouTube. Enjoy.

Lots of ducks in this one, they come for the corn my wife feeds them.

Ironically, the “official” ice out date for Clary Lake this year occurred a day after these two videos, on March 29th.

23 February 2021: Spring is Coming!

It’s about this time of year that I really start hankering for Spring, and I’ve been watching the progress of the Sun anxiously as it rises a little further northward each day. By the time the Vernal Equinox on March 20th gets here, the point where it crosses the Earth’s equator on it’s way north, it will be rising well to the left of where it rose this morning:


27 December 2020: Clary Lake Opens Up

DSC_6884Clary Lake completely froze over on December 19th, but warm temperatures, high winds, and heavy rain on Christmas Day has melted off most of the ice. There’s still some ice in the coves, especially along the south shore. We’ll make note of this fact on our Ice-in and Ice-out page, but we won’t be changing the 2020 ice-in date.  The lake is already trying to refreeze and probably will skim over again in the next couple of days as overnight temperatures for the next week are expected to be in the low to mid 20’s.  The first week of the new year is looking to be much colder and if we don’t get any snow for a while we should have some good ice for skating!

19 December 2020: Clary Lake Frozen Over

Clary is fully iced over as of December 19th.

After consulting with the two Davids (David Hodsdon and David Knight) we’ve concluded that Clary has finally iced over but it will likely at least partially melt off again on Christmas day as we’re expecting a storm bringing an inch or more of rain with temps in the 50’s. Time will tell! As cold as it’s been this month, I expected the lake to freeze before this but heavy rains at the end of November and beginning of December have resulted in a lot of water moving through the lake and as you know, moving water resists freezing. Also, the addition of lots of rain to the lake raises the temperature if only slightly, and this slows down freezing as well. Continue reading

28 February 2020 Event Reminder: Alewife, Eel, and Lamprey Program at Sheepscot General

We’d like to remind you of an upcoming event that we believe will be of special interest to not just Clary Lake Association members, but to all Friends of Clary Lake. The program is on Alewife, Eel, and Lamprey Ecology and will be held at the Sheepscot General in Whitefield (map) on Friday February 28th from 6:00 to 7:30 PM. The program is free and open to the general public. The featured speaker will be Marine Resources Specialist Nate Gray with the Department of Marine Resources. Gray will discuss the important ecological role that river herring (alewives), eels, and lampreys play in Maine and why we might want to introduce them to Clary Lake. Have your questions ready!

If you’re interested in eating some of the fine food offered at the General, plan on showing up early!