Impacts of Synoptic Weather on the Ice Phenology of Maine Lakes, 1955-2005

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Virginia Tech

The cryosphere has been shown to be particularly adept as a proxy for climate change by various studies. Accordingly, historical records from the field of ice phenology have been harvested by climate scientists for the express purpose of studying the temporal variation of ice phenomena, namely freeze-up and ice-out. Ice-out records from 20 lakes in Maine, U.S.A. were collected and clustered by z-score for this thesis. Rather than attempt to relate ice-out to spring air temperature or global teleconnections/oscillations, the Spatial Synoptic Classification (SSC) method was used to encapsulate several meteorological variables that could have a bearing on ice-out variation. The balance between occurrence of relatively cool Moist Polar (MP) and relatively warm Dry Moderate (DM) weather-types during the winter-spring "superseason" was found to be a synoptic barometer of whether ice-out would occur seasonably early or late. The significance of this is predicated upon the finding that quantity of DM days has steadily risen at the expense of MP days during the latter-half of the twentieth-century, in accordance with observed climatic warming during the same period. The remaining SSC weather-types, most notably omnipresent Dry Polar (DP), remained generally stable during the historical record in Maine, further undergirding the significance of the DM-MP relationship.

ice phenology, synoptic weather-typing, Maine