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

R. Timothy Patterson*, Graeme T. Swindles

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    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.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2293-2308
    Number of pages16
    JournalClimate Dynamics
    Issue number9-10
    Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2014


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

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Atmospheric Science

    Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Influence of ocean–atmospheric oscillations on lake ice phenology in eastern North America'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this