Atmospheric teleconnection circulation patterns associated with severe and mild ice cover over the Great Lakes are investigated using the composite analysis of lake ice data and National Center of Environmental Prediction (NCEP) reanalysis data for the period 1963–2011. The teleconnection pattern associated with the severe ice cover is the combination of a negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) or Arctic Oscillation (AO) and negative phase of Pacific/North America (PNA) pattern, while the pattern associated with the mild ice cover is the combination of a positive PNA (or an El Niño) and a positive phase of the NAO/AO. These two extreme ice conditions are associated with the North American ridge–trough variations. The intensified ridge–trough system produces a strong northwest-to-southeast tilted ridge and trough and increases the anomalous northwesterly wind, advecting cold, dry Arctic air to the Great Lakes. The weakened ridge–trough system produces a flattened ridge and trough, and promotes a climatological westerly wind, advecting warm, dry air from western North America to the Great Lakes. Although ice cover for all the individual lakes responds roughly linearly and symmetrically to both phases of the NAO/AO, and roughly nonlinearly and asymmetrically to El Niño and La Niña events, the overall ice cover response to individual NAO/AO or Niño3.4 index is not statistically significant. The combined NAO/AO and Niño3.4 indices can be used to reliably project severe ice cover during the simultaneous –NAO/AO and La Niña events, and mild ice cover during the simultaneous +NAO/AO and El Niño events.

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