Many studies have shown that lake ice-out (break-up) dates in the Northern Hemisphere are useful indicators of late winter/early spring climate change. Trends in lake ice-out dates in New England, USA, were analyzed for 25, 50, 75, 100, 125, 150, and 175 year periods ending in 2008. More than 100 years of ice-out data were available for 19 of the 28 lakes in this study. The magnitude of trends over time depends on the length of the period considered. For the recent 25-year period, there was a mix of earlier and later ice-out dates. Lake ice-outs during the last 50 years became earlier by 1.8 days/decade (median change for all lakes with adequate data). This is a much higher rate than for longer historical periods; ice-outs became earlier by 0.6 days/decade during the last 75 years, 0.4 days/ decade during the last 100 years, and 0.6 days/decade during the last 125 years. The significance of trends was assessed under the assumption of serial independence of historical ice-out dates and under the assumption of short and long term persistence. Hypolimnion dissolved oxygen (DO) levels are an important factor in lake eutrophication and coldwater fish survival. Based on historical data available at three lakes, 32 to 46 % of the interannual variability of late summer hypolimnion DO levels was related to ice-out dates; earlier ice-outs were associated with lower DO levels.
Additional publication details
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