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What looks from above like a temporary geoglyph on the ice or a series of abstract Etch A Sketch doodles are ice roads on Mille Lacs Lake in central Minnesota. The ice roads provide a way for ice fishers to get to their ice shacks on the frozen lake. Some roads extend for a few miles.

Even though Landsat is famous for its 50-year record of global land change, its observations can show us how temporary villages and ice roads change over time on a large frozen lake.

Mille Lacs Lake is about 14 miles across east-west and 16 miles north-south. It covers 207 square miles.

Imagery

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Jan. 25, 1983, Landsat 4 (path/row 27/28) — Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota, USA
Jan. 9, 1986, Landsat 5 (path/row 27/28) — Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota, USA
Jan. 15, 1994, Landsat 5 (path/row 27/28) — Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota, USA
Jan. 9, 2001, Landsat 5 (path/row 28/28) — Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota, USA
Feb. 5, 2005, Landsat 5 (path/row 28/28) — Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota, USA
Jan. 24, 2009, Landsat 5 (path/row 27/28) — Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota, USA
Jan. 11, 2010, Landsat 5 (path/row 27/28) — Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota, USA
Jan. 17, 2018, Landsat 8 (path/row 27/28) — Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota, USA
Jan. 20, 2019, Landsat 8 (path/row 27/28) — Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota, USA
Feb. 24, 2020, Landsat 8 (path/row 27/28) — Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota, USA
Feb. 10, 2021, Landsat 8 (path/row 27/28) — Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota, USA
Jan. 20, 2022, Landsat 9 (path/row 27/28) — Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota, USA
Feb. 8, 2023, Landsat 9 (path/row 27/28) — Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota, USA

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References

Lyback’s Ice Fishing, 2023, Welcome to Lyback’s Ice Fishing: Lyback’s Ice Fishing, accessed February 28, 2023, at http://lybacks.com.

Mille Lacs Area Tourism, 2017, Lake Mille Lacs info: Mille Lacs Area Tourism, accessed February 28, 2023, at https://millelacs.com/lake/.

Mille Lacs Area Tourism, 2017, Legendary Ice Fishing: Mille Lacs Area Tourism, accessed February 28, 2023, at https://millelacs.com/ice-fishing.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 2023, General ice thickness guidelines: Minnesota DNR, accessed February 28, 2023, at https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/ice/thickness.html.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 2023, Mille Lacs Lake: Minnesota DNR, accessed February 28, 2023, at https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/millelacslake/index.html.

Thiede, D., 2019, Ice roads plowed open on Mille Lacs, anglers back on shore: KARE11, accessed February 28, 2023, at https://www.kare11.com/article/news/ice-anglers-stranded-on-mille-lacs/89-1fbcf979-255f-4383-ac19-744f438a7bbd.

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