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Great Lakes Ice Cover Database Update: 1973–2015

Author(s): Anne Clites; Jia Wang; Zifan Yang

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Abstract: Lake ice cover is a sensitive indicator of regional climate and climate change. Seasonal ice cover, impacted by a number of factors, has a large interannual variability. For example, the maximum ice coverage over all of the Great Lakes was 95% in 1979 and only 11% in 2002. Forces impacting ice cover in the Great Lakes include interannual and interdecadal climate variability, and long-term trends, some of which are possibly related to global climate warming. Even in response to the same climate forcing, Great Lakes ice cover may experience different spatial and temporal variability due to each individual lake’s orientation, depth (i. e., water heat storage), and turbidity (i. e., albedo due to sedimentation). Since the last update to the Great Lakes ice cover database (Wang et al. 2012a), there has been significant change in ice cover on the Great Lakes, in particular in the last two winters (93% and 89% coverage for 2014 and 2015, respectively). Therefore, it is necessary to update the ice cover database to the present date for the research community and others for use in decision making. We updated the ice cover database from 2010-2015, extending the time series from 1973 through 2015. Methods and final products are presented. Spatial coverage and temporal variability over the five Great Lakes are available for public application.


Year: 2016

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