Available lake ice data for some freshwater lakes in the United States, not
including the Laurentian Great Lakes, were assembled. The principal data were: ice~in
(freeze over) dates, ice~off dates, ice thickness and ice cover duration on lakes.. The data
were analyzed and interpreted to look for trends over time and relationships with lake
characteristics and geographical location (weather). A multiple variable linear regression
was performed for the ice~in dates, ice-out dates and ice cover duration. Using the
regression equations, projections under a 2xC02 climate scenario were made.
A trend (change) over recent periods of up to 140 years duration was most
apparent for ice-off dates. The trend was toward earlier ice-off dates. For ice-on dates
the trend was positive for some lakes and negative for others.
The data analysis showed that ice-off dates, ice~on dates, ice thicknesses and ice
cover durations on lakes depend on geographic latitude and elevation as crude measures
of the climate at a lake. Mean seasonal (3-month average) values of air temperature were
also used as a more direct measure of local climate at a lake. Three of the ice cover
parameters were shown to depend on these mean seasonal temperatures. Ice-off was
related to the April through June mean air temperatures. Ice-on was related to the October
through December mean air temperatures. In addition to weather, ice-on' dates also
depend on the mean depth of a lake, as was shown in other previous studies. Ice-on is
delayed by 1.3 to 1.4 days for every additional meter of mean lake depth. Ice cover
duration was related to mean annual air temperature.
For a 2xC02 climate scenario, the analytical relationships obtained from the data
project a delay in ice-on dates by 15 to 27 days, an advance in ice-off dates by 18 to 23
days and a shortening of ice cover duration by 37 to 50 days.
Office of Research and Development, US Environmental Protection Agency; Mid-Continent-Ecology Division, US Environmental Protection Agency
Adams, Cynthia E.; Stefan, Heinz G..
Field Data on Lake Ice Covers: Dependence on Lake Chara.cteristics and Climate.
St. Anthony Falls Laboratory.
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