Climate Dynamics

, Volume 45, Issue 9–10, pp 2293–2308 | Cite as

Influence of ocean–atmospheric oscillations on lake ice phenology in eastern North America

  • R. Timothy PattersonEmail author
  • Graeme T. Swindles


Our results reveal long-term trends in ice out dates (1836–2013) for twelve lakes in Maine, New Brunswick and New Hampshire, in eastern North America. The trends are remarkably coherent between lakes (rs = 0.462–0.933, p < 0.01) and correlate closely with the March–April (MA) instrumental temperature records from the region (rs = 0.488–0.816, p < 0.01). This correlation permits use of ice out dates as a proxy to extend the shorter MA instrumental record (1876–2013). Mean ice out dates trended progressively earlier during the recovery from the Little Ice Age through to the 1940s, and gradually became later again through to the late 1970s, when ice out dates had returned to values more typical of the late nineteenth century. Post-1970’s ice out dates resumed trending toward earlier dates, with the twenty-first century being characterized by the earliest ice out dates on record. Spectral and wavelet time series analysis indicate that ice out is influenced by several teleconnections including the Quasi-biennial Oscillation, El Niño-Southern Oscillation, North Atlantic Oscillation, as well as a significant correlation between inland lake records and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. The relative influence of these teleconnections is variable with notable shifts occurring after ~1870, ~1925, and ~1980–2000. The intermittent expression of these cycles in the ice out and MA instrumental record is not only influenced by absolute changes in the intensity of the various teleconnections and other climate drivers, but through phase interference between teleconnections, which periodically damps the various signals.


Lake ice out phenology AMO NAO ENSO QBO teleconnections Climate change March–April temperature Time series analysis Eastern North America 



This research was supported by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Discovery grant to RTP. We thank three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions. We thank Clayton Piercy and the Oromocto Lake Association for providing the Oromocto Lake, New Brunswick ice out record as well as Larry Parks of the Lake Utopia Preservation Association for providing the Lake Utopia, New Brunswick ice out data. We also thank the generations of citizen scientists who collected the ice out data for all the lakes used in this study.

Supplementary material

382_2014_2415_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (64 kb)
Julian calendar ice out dates for the 12 lakes (PDF 64 kb)
382_2014_2415_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (32 kb)
Mean March–April temperatures for five climate stations used in study. Specific details for each station is provided in Appendix 2 (PDF 31 kb)
382_2014_2415_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (78 kb)
Spearman rank correlations of ice-out data, instrumental records for March–April and possible forcing mechanisms. All instrumental MA and ice-out records are significantly correlated to each other at the p < 0.01 level. There is a significant correlation between atmospheric CO2 concentrations and the ice-out records as well as a correlation between annual Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation records and ice out records from inland lakes (PDF 78 kb)
382_2014_2415_MOESM4_ESM.pdf (38 kb)
Summary of the cycles recognized in spectral analysis of the Ice data, mean March–April temperatures for five climate stations used in study, and climate forcing indexes for the Quasi-biennial Oscillation (mean and December, January, February, March (DJFM), El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO; mean and DJFM); North Atlantic Oscillation—Climate Research Unit (NAO-CRU; mean and DJFM), and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (mean, DJFM). Specific details for each lake and climate station are provided in Appendix 2 (PDF 38 kb)
382_2014_2415_MOESM5_ESM.tif (26.4 mb)
Supplementary material 5 (TIFF 27051 kb)
382_2014_2415_MOESM6_ESM.tif (19.6 mb)
Supplementary material 6 (TIFF 20077 kb)
382_2014_2415_MOESM7_ESM.tif (35.3 mb)
Supplementary material 7 (TIFF 36158 kb)
382_2014_2415_MOESM8_ESM.pdf (81 kb)
Supplementary material 8 (PDF 80 kb)
382_2014_2415_MOESM9_ESM.pdf (57 kb)
Supplementary material 9 (PDF 57 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth Sciences, Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience CentreCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada
  2. 2.School of GeographyUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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