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Winter conditions play an important role for the largest lake in Europe—Lake Ladoga. The ice cover lasts for 171 ± 3 days on average from the early November until the mid-May. We investigated the ice regime of Lake Ladoga using a constructed ice database of aircraft surveys and satellite images. More than 1250 surveys of the lake's ice cover from 1943 to 2010 were collected and analysed to determine mean and extreme ice conditions for winters of different types of severity. The time series of ice cover percentage over the lake was plotted. On average, 18 observational ice charts were made every winter. Individual ice phenology records show considerable year-to-year variation. For this reason, records typically have been combined and analysed as groups (categories). Extremely cold winters were determined as winters with complete ice cover that lasts more than three months which is approximately 90% quartiles from all winters with complete ice cover. The lake surface was completely covered with ice for more than three months during 5 seasons. Extremely warm winters when the maximum ice cover was less than 70% of the lake area occurred during 5 seasons as well. A basic relationship between the winter severity as winter maximum of accumulated freezing degree-days (AFDD) and the earlier derived Relative Ice Cover Index (RICI) was established. We have used teleconnection indices such as North Atlantic Oscillations (NAO) and Arctic Oscillation (AO) for the period from October to May for estimation of different types of Lake Ladoga's ice conditions. The AO index in winter months and local winter maximum of AFDD explained much of the interannual variation in ice cover. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.