, Volume 88, Issue 1-3, pp 431-444

Patterns and Trends in Southern Ontario Lake ice Phenology

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Abstract

An analysis is presented of 46 ice break up and 15 ice free season phenology data series obtained largely through volunteer monitoring efforts in Southern Ontario. Observations spanned the years 1853–2001. Available data included dates of ice formation and ice break up as well as the number of ice free days in a year. A high degree of temporal coherence in ice phenology between lakes was observed (137/365 pairwise correlations significant at P<0.05). Significant monotonic trends towards earlier break up dates and longer ice free seasons were observed across the region both in the entire series and in the last thirty years of data. Trends in longer series may be associated with the end of the Little Ice Age. The significantly longer ice free seasons and earlier ice break up dates observed in the study area have important implications for lakes in other parts of Canada where climate change effects are predicted to be more extreme than in South-Central Ontario.