Water Resources Management

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 359–373 | Cite as

Comparison of the Characteristics (Frequency and Timing) of Drought and Wetness Indices of Annual Mean Water Levels in the Five North American Great Lakes

  • Ali A. AssaniEmail author
  • Raphaëlle Landry
  • Ouassila Azouaoui
  • Philippe Massicotte
  • Denis Gratton


In this study, we compared the frequency and timing of drought and wetness indices of annual mean water levels in the North American Great Lakes as they relate to teleconnection indices over the period from 1918 to 2012. In terms of timing, drought occurred in the Great Lakes watershed during the 1920, 1930 and 2000 decades, and was very intense in the East during the 1930’s and in the West during the 2000 decade. The main cause of extreme drought episodes in the 1920’s and 1930’s was a decrease in precipitation, while the 2000 decade drought is thought to be caused by increased water temperature (enhanced evaporation) due to a significant decrease in winter ice cover. The 1970 and 1980 decades were very wet over the whole watershed as a result of increased precipitation in the region. The succession of these dry and wet episodes did not have the same impacts on the stationarity of annual mean water levels in the five Great Lakes. Lake Superior shows an abrupt shift in mean in 1999, but a smoothed shift in variance since 1994, whereas Lake Erie shows four abrupt shifts in mean. Lake Ontario also shows the two first abrupt shift in mean and one abrupt change in variance. Extreme drought indices are negatively correlated with the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) for the two shallowest lakes (Ontario and Erie). In contrast, extreme wetness indices are positively correlated with PDO (positive correlation) and SOI (negative correlation) for Lake Superior only.


Extreme drought index Extreme wetness index Annual mean water levels Teleconnection indices Great Lakes 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ali A. Assani
    • 1
    Email author
  • Raphaëlle Landry
    • 1
  • Ouassila Azouaoui
    • 1
  • Philippe Massicotte
    • 1
  • Denis Gratton
    • 1
  1. 1.Département des sciences de l’environnement and Centre de Recherche sur les Interactions Bassins Versants- Écosystèmes aquatiques (RIVE)Université du Québec à Trois-RivièresTrois-RivièresCanada

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