While Great Lakes' seasonal water-level variations have been previously researched and well documented, few studies thus far addressed longer-term, decadal cycles contained in the 143-yr lake-level instrumental record. Paleo-reconstructions based on Lake Michigan's coastal features, however, hinted to an approximate 30-yr quasi-periodic lake-level variability. In the present study, spectral analysis of 1865–2007 Lakes Michigan/Huron historic levels revealed 8 and 12-yr period oscillations; these time scales match those of large-scale climatic signals previously found in the North Atlantic. While the existing paleodata are inadequate to the task of asserting significance of the 30-yr signal, it is suggested here that this cycle is due to intermodulation of the two near-decadal signals. Furthermore, water budget analysis argues that the North Atlantic decadal climate modes translate to the lake levels primarily through precipitation and its associated runoff.
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Vol. 35 • No. 1