Oscillatory dynamics do not mask linear trends in the timing of ice breakup for Northern Hemisphere lakes from 1855 to 2004

Abstract

Our analyses partition the relative influence of progressive climate change and large-scale climate drivers that can be associated with the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (QBO), El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), solar sunspot cycle, and multi-decadal oscillations on lake ice breakup dates for thirteen Northern Hemisphere lakes. Oscillatory dynamics explain 26 % of the total variance in the time series compared with 15 % for linear trends, leaving 60 % unexplained and likely attributable, in part, to local weather. Significant oscillatory dynamics include frequencies in 2–3 year periods (9.4 % of the total variance), 3–6 year periods (8.2 %), 10–12 year periods (1.6 %) and various multidecadal periods (0.4–1.3 %). All 13 study lakes, although widely scattered in the Northern Hemisphere, had similar oscillatory dynamics and linear trends, emphasizing that global processes influence lake ice breakup locally. We illustrate that while quasi-periodic dynamics associated with large-scale climate drivers are important, they do not mask the clear evidence for progressive climate change.

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Acknowledgments

Funding was provided by NSERC, York University, NSF, and the North Temperate Lakes LTER Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison. We thank Barbara Benson and the National Snow and Ice Center for providing data, William Feeny and Thomas Van Zuiden for figures, Steve Carpenter, Richard Lathrop, Brian Shuter, Richard Vogt, Norman Yan, Jake Vander Zanden, and two anonymous reviewers for comments on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Sapna Sharma.

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Sharma, S., Magnuson, J.J. Oscillatory dynamics do not mask linear trends in the timing of ice breakup for Northern Hemisphere lakes from 1855 to 2004. Climatic Change 124, 835–847 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-014-1125-0

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Keywords

  • Pacific Decadal Oscillation
  • North Atlantic Oscillation
  • Local Weather
  • Oscillatory Dynamic
  • North Atlantic Oscillation Event