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Freezing of lakes on the Swiss Plateau in the period 1901-2006


, : Freezing of lakes on the Swiss Plateau in the period 1901-2006. International Journal of Climatology 28(4): 421-433

Data of ice cover for deep Alpine lakes contain relevant climatological information since ice cover and winter temperature are closely related. For the first time, ice cover data from 11 lakes on the Swiss plateau have been collected and analysed for the period 1901-2006. The ice cover data used stem from systematic registration by individuals or groups (fishermen, an ice club and lake security service) and from several national, regional and local newspapers. It is found that in the past 40 years, and especially during the last two decades, ice cover on Swiss lakes was significantly reduced. This is in good agreement with the observed increase in the winter temperature in this period. The trend of reduced ice cover is more pronounced for lakes that freeze rarely than for the lakes that freeze more frequently. This agrees well with the stronger relative decrease in the probability to exceed the sum of negative degree days (NDD) needed for freezing the lakes that rarely freeze. The ice cover data are related with the temperature measurements such as the sum of NDD of nearby official meteorological stations by means of binomial logistic regression. The derived relationships estimate the probability of a complete ice cover on a lake as function of the sum of NDD. The sums of NDD needed are well related to the average depth of the lake (r (sub NDD-Depth) = 0.85). Diagnosing lake ice cover on the basis of the sum of NDD is much better than a prediction on the basis of a climatological freezing frequency. The variance of lake ice cover that cannot be explained by the sum of NDD is important for judging the uncertainty associated with climate reconstruction on the basis of data on lake ice cover. Abstract Copyright (2008), Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

US$19.90

DOI: 10.1002/joc.1553


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