Lake Ice Projections

Some interesting lake ice projections for North America using modelled climate data to the year 2100 with the Canadian Lake Ice Model.  

We expect to see a reduction in ice cover duration, maximum ice thickness and the southern extent of annual lake ice cover using projected climate data to the end of the century. These maps were created assuming lakes exist in every grid cell of climate data input. The lake ice model was run using 3 different mixing depths to represent shallow, medium and deep lakes. We also modelled the ice cover with snow and without snow on top of the ice to represent what might happen to the ice thickness when snow redistribution occurs, and the lake is blown totally free of snow.  These maps only show areas where ice cover is expected to form in at least 25 years of the 30 year mean, some regions not mapped would still be expected to have intermittent years of ice cover depending on the season. These maps are based on only one future scenario of climate data but show a dramatic reduction in lake ice by the end-of-century.

Overall, for North America, these projections suggest a reduction in the average ice cover duration by 40 to 50 days and a reduction in the maximum ice thickness by 30 to 55 cm by end-of-century mean (2071-2100). These reductions vary spatially, with the most dramatic changes projected to occur near coastal areas and in the Arctic. Looking closer at the grid cells of data from the Haliburton, ON region where we have one of our field research sites, lake ice is projected to form intermittently during the 2071-2100 time span. During the years when ice does form, it is only projected to persist for about two weeks and not exceed 10 cm in thickness. 

(Input data is from the COordinated Regional climate Downscaling EXperiment (CORDEX) North American Domain, RCP 4.5 and 8.5, obtained form the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis)



  • Brown LC and Duguay CR.  Trends and projections for North American Lake Ice. Joint Assembly CGU/AGU – Poster Presentation H34B-0155, Montreal, May 6 2015.


Related work:

  • Brown LC, Derksen C, Duguay CR, Samuelsson P. Modelling Lake Ice and the Future of the Arctic Lake Ice Cover. American Geophysical Union – Oral Presentation  C34A-04, San Francisco, Dec. 17 2014.
  • Brown LC, Duguay CR, Derksen C, Samuelsson P.  Pan-arctic lake ice cover under contemporary and future climate conditions. Oral Presentation, CGU/CMOS/CWRA joint Congress 2013, Saskatoon, May 29 2013
  • Brown LC and Duguay CR. 2011. The fate of lake ice in the North American Arctic. The Cryosphere, 5, 869-892, 2011,, doi:10.5194/tc-5-869-2011
  • Brown, LC and Duguay CR. 2012. Modelling lake ice phenology with sub-grid cell variability. Advances in Meteorology, volume 2012, 529064, 19 pages, doi:10.1155/2012/529064, 2012