Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2021-304
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2021-304

  06 Oct 2021

06 Oct 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Warming Climate Shortens Ice Durations and Alters Freeze and Breakup Patterns in Swedish Water Bodies

Sofia Hallerbäck1,2, Laurie S. Huning3,1, Charlotte Love1, Magnus Persson2, Katarina Stensen4, David Gustafsson4, and Amir AghaKouchak1,5 Sofia Hallerbäck et al.
  • 1Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Irvine, USA
  • 2Lund University, Sweden
  • 3Department of Civil Engineering and Construction Engineering Management, California State University, Long Beach, USA
  • 4Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, Sweden
  • 5Department of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine, USA

Abstract. Increasing air temperatures reduce the duration of ice cover on lakes and rivers, altering their water quality, ecology, biodiversity, and physical, economical and recreational function. Using a unique in-situ record of freeze and breakup dates, including records dating back to the beginning of the 18th century, we analyze changes in ice duration (i.e., first freeze to last breakup), freeze and breakup patterns across Sweden. Results indicate a significant trend in shorter ice duration (62 %), later freeze (36 %) and earlier breakup (58 %) dates from 1913–2014. In the latter 3 decades, the mean observed ice durations have decreased by about 11 days in northern (above 60N) and 28 days in southern Sweden, whereas the average freeze date occurred about 10 days later and breakup date about 17 days earlier in southern Sweden. The rate of change is roughly twice as large in southern Sweden as in its northern part. Sweden has experienced an increase in occurrence of years with an extremely short ice cover duration (i.e., less than 50 days), which occurred about eight times more often in southern Sweden than previously observed. Our analysis indicates that even a 1 °C increase in air temperatures in southern (northern) Sweden results in a mean decrease of ice duration of 22.5 (7.6) days. Given that warming is expected to continue across Sweden during the 21st century, we expect increasingly significant impacts on ice cover duration and hence, ecology, water quality, transportation, and recreational activities in the region.

Sofia Hallerbäck et al.

Status: open (until 01 Dec 2021)

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Sofia Hallerbäck et al.

Sofia Hallerbäck et al.

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Short summary
Using a unique data, some dating back to the 18th century, we show a significant trend in shorter ice duration, later freeze, and earlier breakup dates across Sweden. In recent observations, the mean ice durations have decreased by 11 to 28 days and the chance of years with an extremely short ice cover duration (less than 50 days) have increased by 800 %. Results show that even a 1 °C increase in air temperatures can result in around 8 to 23 days of decrease in ice duration in Sweden.