It may be hard to think of this week's deep freeze as anything but miserable, but to many scientists there are silver linings: The extreme cold may help raise low water in the Great Lakes, protect shorelines and wetlands from erosion, kill insect pests and slow the migration of invasive species.
Extreme cold reins in invasive nuisance plants such as kudzu, which has ravaged the Southeast but has yet to find its way north, said Luke Nave, assistant research scientist.
"As long as these cold snaps continue to occur, they will help reinforce the current range limits for certain plants," Nave said.
Sections of the lakes that freeze solidly create new pathways for wandering wildlife. That could help gray wolves, which have spread across Michigan's Upper Peninsula, find new territory in the Lower Peninsula, where the occasional straggler has turned up but no established packs are known to exist.
"You can decide for yourself whether that's a good thing," said Philip Myers, curator of mammals at the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. "I think it is."