Spatiotemporal Trends in Lake Effect and Continental Snowfall in the Laurentian Great Lakes, 1951–1980

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  • 1 Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory/N0AA, Ann Arbor, Michigan
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Abstract

A new raster-based monthly snowfall climatology was derived from 1951–1980 snowfall station data for the Laurentian Great Lakes. An automated methodology was used to obtain higher spatial resolution than previously obtained. The increase in resolution was attained by using all available monthly snowfall data from over 1230 stations per year combined with a monthly lime step to produce high-resolution grids. These monthly grids were combined to produce snow-year grids. Multiyear average grids were created and compared. This technique minimizes traditional problems associated with missing data and variable length station records.

The three 10-year average distribution maps presented here indicate a period of increasing snowfall. Windowing of the 30 seasonal grids revealed that increasing snowfall was attributable to an increase in lake effect snowfall and not to continental snowfall. The Great Lakes drainage basin was evaluated for trends within and between monthly and seasonal average snowfall through windowing of all 240 monthly grids. The graphical and statistical evaluation of these trends indicates a strong natural variation in the region's snowfall and reveals an increasing trend during the study period.

Abstract

A new raster-based monthly snowfall climatology was derived from 1951–1980 snowfall station data for the Laurentian Great Lakes. An automated methodology was used to obtain higher spatial resolution than previously obtained. The increase in resolution was attained by using all available monthly snowfall data from over 1230 stations per year combined with a monthly lime step to produce high-resolution grids. These monthly grids were combined to produce snow-year grids. Multiyear average grids were created and compared. This technique minimizes traditional problems associated with missing data and variable length station records.

The three 10-year average distribution maps presented here indicate a period of increasing snowfall. Windowing of the 30 seasonal grids revealed that increasing snowfall was attributable to an increase in lake effect snowfall and not to continental snowfall. The Great Lakes drainage basin was evaluated for trends within and between monthly and seasonal average snowfall through windowing of all 240 monthly grids. The graphical and statistical evaluation of these trends indicates a strong natural variation in the region's snowfall and reveals an increasing trend during the study period.

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