Abstract

The objective of this study was to determine if the Niagara River ice boom has prolonged the Lake Erie ice cover at Buffalo, New York, resulting in significant changes in the spring warm-up of Lake Erie and longer, colder winters in the area. Statistical analysis of Buffalo air temperatures compared with those for Lockport, NY does not reveal statistically significant cooling in the climate at Buffalo related to the operation of the ice boom. However, because of the distance of the airport (where the temperature gage is located) from the shore zone, the possibility of a localized effect of small magnitude within the vicinity of the ice boom cannot be ruled out. A comparison of the water temperature at the Buffalo intake as recorded in pre- and post-boom years also indicates that the ice boom has not had an impact on the timing of the spring rise in Lake Erie water temperature at Buffalo. Analysis of winter temperature trends since 1898 shows that the winter severity at Buffalo follows a general pattern characteristic not only of the region around the eastern end of Lake Erie but also of the Great Lakes Region as a whole. Winters have become colder since the installation of the ice boom, but these colder winters are part of a general climatic trend toward more severe winters beginning in 1958. Thus, there is no evidence to suggest that the ice boom has increased winter severity or duration at Buffalo relative to other areas around the Great Lakes.

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