Lake and river ice cover
Published (reviewed and quality assured)
Justification for indicator selectionThe appearance of ice on lakes and rivers requires prolonged periods with air temperatures below 0 oC. The deeper the lake, the more cold is needed to cool down the lake so that ice forms. Higher temperatures will affect the duration of ice cover, the freezing and thawing dates and the thickness of the ice cover.
Changes in ice cover are of critical ecological importance for lakes because of their effect on the underwater light levels (Lepparanta et al., 2003), nutrient recycling (Jarvinen et al., 2002) and oxygen conditions (Stewart, 1976; Livingstone, 1993), which influence the production and biodiversity of phytoplankton (Rodhe, 1955; Phillips and Fawley, 2002; Weyhenmeyer et al., 1999), and the occurrence of winter fish kills (Greenbank, 1945; Barica and Mathias, 1979). Less ice may in some cases result in reduced fish kills.
Changes in lake and river ice may affect winter transportation, bridge and pipeline crossings, and winter sports but no quantitative evidence for such effects yet exists (IPCC, 2007). In Europe there is some evidence of a reduction in ice-jam floods due to reduced freshwater freezing during the last century (Svensson et al., 2006).
- No rationale references available
- Ice break-up dates from selected European lakes and rivers (1835-2006) and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index for winter 1864-2006
Policy context and targets
In April 2009 the European Commission presented a White Paper on the framework for adaptation policies and measures to reduce the European Union's vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. The aim is to increase the resilience to climate change of health, property and the productive functions of land, inter alia by improving the management of water resources and ecosystems. More knowledge is needed on climate impact and vulnerability but a considerable amount of information and research already exists which can be shared better through a proposed Clearing House Mechanism. The White Paper stresses the need to mainstream adaptation into existing and new EU policies. A number of Member States have already taken action and several have prepared national adaptation plans. The EU is also developing actions to enhance and finance adaptation in developing countries as part of a new post-2012 global climate agreement expected in Copenhagen (Dec. 2009). For more information see: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/climat/adaptation/index_en.htm
No targets have been specified
Related policy documents
No related policy documents have been specified
Methodology for indicator calculation
Methodology for gap filling
No methodology references available.
EEA data references
- No datasets have been specified here.
External data references
Data sources in latest figures
Data sets uncertainty
No uncertainty has been specified
Short term work
Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.
Long term work
Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.
Responsibility and ownership
EEA Contact InfoPeter Kristensen
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
PDF generated on 29 Aug 2015, 06:14 AM