What Will Happen to Niagara Falls? (Erosion, Freeze, Drain)

Niagara Falls, the most visited falls in the world, need to be ready for the future. With all the events occurring those days, we can expect different possibilities for Niagara Falls. So, what will happen to Niagara Falls?

Niagara Falls will disappear in around 20,000 years because of erosion. Indeed, each year, 3 feet of the falls erode. This erosion rate will cause Niagara Falls to slowly collapse in the future.

Erosion is the most likely scenario for Niagara Falls. But this is an event that you will not be able to experience because it is so far in the future. There are other events that could happen way before the latter and that you would be able to see.

Can Niagara Falls Freeze?

In winter, the temperatures in Niagara Falls can get really low, easily below 32 °F (0°C). Water freezes at this temperature at the atmospheric pressure. But, can Niagara Falls freeze?

Niagara Falls cannot freeze because 3,160 tons of water flow over Niagara Falls every second. This raises the pressure in the falls way above the atmospheric pressure. At this high pressure, the temperature needs to be way lower to freeze the flowing water.

Since the temperatures in the coldest months (November, December, January, February) can easily reach 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 degrees Celsius), this is not enough to freeze the falls. Even when the Great Lakes region hit its lowest record (-20 degrees Farhenheit or -31 degrees Celsius), it is not enough for the falls to freeze.

Did Niagara Falls freeze?

Is it really impossible for Niagara Falls to freeze then? Well, it looks like temperatures cannot reach such extremes. But maybe there are other ways to freeze the falls. And it looks like there are! In 1848, something very interesting happened. Did Niagara Falls freeze?

In 1848, Niagara Falls froze for the only time in history. This what not due to extremely cold temperatures that froze the flowing water, but to an ice dam that was created in Lake Erie because of the low temperatures. This prevented water to flow on March 29, 1848.

This is the only time that Niagara Falls stop flowing naturally. Indeed, there are other times when the falls stop flowing, but this was because of human interventions. In more recent days, the Niagara Falls did partially freeze. This is still impressive and you can see it in the following video from NBC News.

Credits to NBC News

Will Niagara Falls freeze?

The answers to the two last questions could be a bit disappointing. If you were to imagine huge frozen stalactites in the falls, you will have to wait. But things can still happen in the future. Will Niagara Falls freeze?

The only way Niagara Falls will freeze is if an ice dam in Lake Erie is created. This is what happened in 1848, and it could happen again, but it is very unlikely.

Niagara Falls is still a great place to visit all year-long, and especially in winter, as you can see in the following picture.

bare trees beside niagara falls waterfalls at day time
Picture from Micah Giszack

Can Niagara Falls be drained?

If you looked for pictures on the Internet, you may have seen some on which Niagara Falls are totally dry. How did that happen? With so much water flowing in the falls, it seems really unlikely that Niagara Falls can drain. So, can Niagara Falls be drained?

Without human intervention, Niagara Falls cannot be drained in the near future. This is impossible because of the huge and regular amount of water flowing in the falls in the falls.

Unlike in places like Iguazu Falls, where dry seasons last for 6 months and can drain partially the falls, the climate around Niagara Falls is much more stable and the water cycle is more regular.

This is what prevents the falls to drain. but still, when you look on the Internet, you can see pictures where the falls are totally dry. How did that happen? This is what we are going to see.

Did Niagara Falls get drained?

In 1969, Niagara Falls got drained because of a human-made dam. The dam was created to study the erosion of Niagara Falls and prevent it from slowly falling apart.

Scientists were worried about the erosion rate already back in 1969, showing that this is the most likely scenario to happen in the future. In the next video, you can see exactly how it looked like back in the days.

Credits to Shatner Method

Will Niagara Falls dry up?

The last question of this article is about the future of Niagara Falls regarding droughts. Indeed, we know that global warming is real and that it will affect most of the territories on Planet Earth in the near future. This could affect Niagara Falls. Will Niagara Falls dry up?

Niagara Falls will not dry up because of global warming. But the falls may be shut off in the upcoming years to study the erosion. This would cause the workers to build and dam, and it would drain Niagara Falls.

I hope that you are now aware of what will happen to Niagara Falls. If you still have questions regarding this topic, you can ask them directly in the comment section below! Lots of things will happen to Niagara Falls in the long-term future, but for now, you can enjoy them normally.

For instance, there are lots of cruises to see the falls, not like the calm luxurious cruises you can find in Halong Bay, more adventurous ones. And if you like to scare yourself and project yourself in the future, I recommend that you read the articles I wrote about Why is the Great Blue Hole so dangerous, Why is Kilauea still active, The 2 reasons why Madeira airport is dangerous.

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