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© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 26 Nov 2018

Research article | 26 Nov 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Future projections of temperature and mixing regime of European temperate lakes

Tom Shatwell1,2, Wim Thiery3,4, and Georgiy Kirillin1 Tom Shatwell et al.
  • 1Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB), Department of Ecohydrology, Müggelseedamm 310, 12587 Berlin, Germany
  • 2Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Department of Lake Research, Brückstrasse 3a, 39114 Magdeburg, Germany
  • 3ETH Zurich, Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, Universitaetstrasse 16, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland
  • 4Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Department of Hydrology and Hydraulic Engineering, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussels, Belgium

Abstract. The physical response of lakes to climate warming is regionally variable and highly dependent on individual lake characteristics, making generalisations about their development difficult. To qualify the role of individual lake characteristics in their response to regionally homogeneous warming, we simulated temperature, ice cover and mixing in four intensively studied German lakes of varying morphology and mixing regime with a one-dimensional lake model. We forced the model with an ensemble of 12 climate projections (RCP4.5) up to 2100. The lakes were projected to warm at 0.10–0.11 °C decade−1, which is 75–90 % of the projected air temperature trend. In simulations, surface temperatures increased strongly in winter and spring, but little or not at all in summer and autumn. Mean bottom temperatures were projected to increase in all lakes, with steeper trends in winter and in shallower lakes. Modelled ice thaw and summer stratification advanced by 1.5–2.2 and 1.4–1.8 d decade−1 respectively, whereas autumn turnover and winter freeze timing was less sensitive. The projected summer mixed layer depth was unaffected by warming but sensitive to changes in water transparency. By mid-century, the frequency of ice and stratification-free winters was projected to increase by about 20 %, making ice cover rare and shifting the two deeper dimictic lakes to a predominantly monomictic regime. The polymictic lake was unlikely to become dimictic by the end of the century. A sensitivity analysis predicted that decreasing transparency would dampen the effect of warming on mean temperature but amplify its effect on stratification. However, this interaction was only predicted to occur in clear lakes, and not in the study lakes at their historical transparency. Not only lake morphology, but also mixing regime determines how heat is stored and ultimately how lakes respond to climate warming. Seasonal differences in climate warming rates are thus important and require more attention.

Tom Shatwell et al.
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Tom Shatwell et al.
Tom Shatwell et al.
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Short summary
We used models to project future temperature and mixing in temperate lakes. Lakes will probably warm faster in winter than in summer, making ice less frequent and altering mixing. We found that the layers that form seasonally in lakes (ice, stratification) and water clarity affect how lakes accumulate heat. Seasonal changes in climate were thus important. This helps us better understand how different lake types respond to warming and which physical changes to expect in the future.
We used models to project future temperature and mixing in temperate lakes. Lakes will probably...