Climatic Change

, Volume 153, Issue 3, pp 323–339 | Cite as

Synoptic climate evidence of a late-twentieth century change to earlier spring ice-out on Maine Lakes, USA

  • Andrew W. EllisEmail author
  • Timothy R. Greene


Trend analysis of spring ice-out on eight lakes within the state of Maine of the northeastern USA reveals a change to earlier occurrence by 1 to 2 weeks over the period 1956–2015. Much of the trend occurred from the late 1970s through the 1980s, but a secondary trend toward earlier ice-out appears to have begun in the late 1990s. Synoptic climate data support local and hemispheric climate evidence of increasingly earlier ice-out, particularly during the earlier period of pronounced change. Local spring and winter maximum daily air temperatures increased while winter precipitation decreased; synoptic weather types of moderate temperature character increased in frequency, while polar types became less frequent; synoptic weather types became warmer in spring and winter, and in spring, warmer weather types became wetter, while cooler weather types became drier; and two key climate teleconnections, the Pacific-North American pattern and the El Niño/La Niña pattern, changed significantly toward a phase historically associated with earlier ice-out. While the results underscore the value in monitoring and study of lake ice as a climate proxy, they also demonstrate the value of synoptic climate data for filling the spatial gap between local and large-scale climate data in studies of lake ice phenology.



  1. Anderson WL, Robertson DM, Magnuson JJ (1996) Evidence of recent warming and El Niño-related variations in ice breakup of Wisconsin lakes. Limnol Oceanogr 41(5):815–821. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Assel RA, Robertson DM (1995) Changes in winter air temperatures near Lake Michigan, 1851-1993, as determined from regional lake-ice records. Limnol Oceanogr 40(1):165–176. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Assel RA, Rodionov S (1998) Atmospheric teleconnections for annual maximum ice cover on the Laurentian Great Lakes. Int J Clim 18(4):425–442.<425::AID-JOC258>3.0.CO;2-Q CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Benson BJ, Magnuson JJ, Jensen OP, Card VM, Hodgkins G, Korhonen J, Livingston DM, Stewart KM, Weyhenmeyer GA, Granin NG (2002) Extreme events, trends, and variability in northern hemisphere lake-ice phenology (1855-2005). Clim Chang 112(2):299–323. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bernhardt J, Engelhardt C, Kirillin G, Matschullat J (2012) Lake ice phenology in Berlin-Brandenburg from 1947–2007: observations and model hindcasts. Clim Chang 112(3):791–817. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Beyene MT, Jain S (2015) Wintertime weather-climate variability and its links to early spring ice-out in Maine lakes. Limnol Oceanogr 60(6):1890–1905. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Beyene MT, Jain S, Gupta RC (2018) Linear-circular statistical modeling of Lake ice-out dates. Water Resour Res 54:7841–7858. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bonsal BR, Prowse TD, Duguay CR, Lacroix MP (2006) Impacts of large-scale teleconnections on freshwater-ice break/freeze-up dates over Canada. J Hydrol 330(1):340–353. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Duguay CR, Prowse TD, Bonsal BR, Brown RD, Lacroix MP, Ménard P (2006) Recent trends in Canadian lake ice cover. Hydrol Process 20(4):781–801. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ghanbari RN, Bravo HR, Magnuson JJ, Hyzer WG, Benson BJ (2009) Coherence between lake ice cover, local climate and teleconnections (Lake Mendota, Wisconsin). J Hydrol 374(3):282–293. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hanna E, Cropper TE, Hall RJ, Cappelen J (2016) Greenland blocking index 1851-2015: a regional climate change signal. Int J Climatol 36(15):4847–4861. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hodgkins GA (2013) The importance of record length in estimating the magnitude of climatic changes: an example using 175 years of lake ice-out dates in New England. Clim Chang 119(3–4):70–718. Google Scholar
  13. Hodgkins GA, James IC II (2002) Historical ice-out dates for 29 lakes in New England. United States Geological Survey Open-File Report 02–34. Augusta, ME 41 pp.
  14. Hodgkins GA, James IC II, Huntington TG (2002) Historical changes in lake ice-out dates as indicators of climate change in New England, 1850–2000. Int J Climatol 22(15):1819–1827. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Livezey RE, Vinnikov KY, Timofeyeva MM, Tinker R, van den Dool HM (2007) Estimation and extrapolation of climate normals and climatic trends. J Appl Meteor Climatology 46:1759–1777. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Livingstone DM (1999) Ice break-up on southern Lake Baikal and its relationship to local and regional air temperatures in Siberia and to the North Atlantic oscillation. Limnol Oceanogr 44(6):1486–1497. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Livingstone DM (2000) Large-scale climatic forcing detected in historical observations of lake ice break-up. Internationale Vereinigung fur Theoretische und Angewandte Limnologie Verhandlungen 27(5):2775–2783. Google Scholar
  18. Magnuson JJ, Robertson DM, Benson BJ, Wynne RH, Livingstone DM, Arai T, Assel RA, Barry RG, Card V, Kuusisto E, Granin NG, Prowse TD, Stewart KM, Vuglinksi VS (2000) Historical trends in lake and river ice cover in the northern hemisphere. Sci 289(5485):1743–1746. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Mann HB (1945) Nonparametric tests against trend. Econometrica 13:245–259. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Menne MJ, Durre I, Vose RS, Gleason BE, Houston TG (2012) An overview of the global historical climatology network—daily database. J Atmos Oceanic Tech 29:897–910. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mishra V, Cherkauer KA, Bowling LC, Huber M (2011) Lake ice phenology of small lakes: impacts of climate variability in the Great Lakes region. Glob Planet Chang 76(3):166–185. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Palecki MA, Barry RG (1986) Freeze-up and break-up of lakes as an index of temperature changes during the transition seasons: a case study for Finland. J Clim Appl Meteorol 25(7):893–902.<0893:FUABUO>2.0.CO;2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Patterson TR, Swindles GT (2015) Influence of ocean–atmospheric oscillations on lake ice phenology in eastern North America. Clim Dyn 45(9):2293–2308. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Robertson DM, Ragotzkie RA, Magnuson JJ (1992) Lake ice records used to detect historical and future climatic changes. Clim Chang 21(4):407–427.
  25. Sánchez-López G, Hernández A, Pla-Rabes S, Toro M, Granados I, Sigró J, Trigo RM, Rubio-Inglés MJ, Camarero L, Valero-Garcés B, Giralt S (2015) The effects of the NAO on the ice phenology of Spanish alpine lakes. Clim Chang 130(2):101–113. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Sen PK (1968) Estimates of the regression coefficient based on Kendall’s tau. J Amer Stat Assoc 63(324):1379–1389. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Sheridan SC (2002) The redevelopment of a weather-type classification scheme for North America. Int J Climatol 22(1):51–68. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Vavrus SJ, Wynne RH, Foley JA (1996) Measuring the sensitivity of southern Wisconsin lake ice to climate variations and lake depth using a numerical model. Limnol Oceanogr 41(5):822–831. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Wolter K, Timlin MS (2011) El Niño/southern oscillation behaviour since 1871 as diagnosed in an extended multivariate ENSO index (MEI.ext). Int J Climatol 31(7):1074–1087. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Wrzesiński D, Choiński A, Ptak M, Skowron R (2015) Effect of the North Atlantic oscillation on the pattern of lake ice phenology in Poland. Acta Geophys 63(6):1664–1684. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Yue S, Pilon P, Cavadias G (2002) Power of the Mann-Kendall and Spearman’s rho tests for detecting monotonic trends in hydrological series. J Hydrol 259:254–271CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Zander R, Messina A, Godek M (2013) An air mass based approach to the establishment of spring season synoptic characteristics in the Northeast United States. Atmos and Clim Sci 3(3):408–419 6/acs.2013.33042Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA

Personalised recommendations