Doctoral thesis
Open access

Modelling impact climate-related change on the thermal responses of lakes

Number of pages179
Imprimatur date2023-05-11
Defense date2023-05-02

In response to climate-related changes, lakes worldwide have experienced warmer surface water temperatures, shorter ice cover periods and changes in lake stratification. As these aspects of lake dynamics exert substantial control over nutrient availability, oxygenation and biogeochemical cycling, predicting changes in lake water temperature and stratification dynamics can improve our understanding of the consequences of warming on lake ecosystems. This thesis investigates the long-term and short-term (extreme event) effects of climate change on lake thermal dynamics using 1D hydrodynamic lake models.

Long-term lake water temperature simulations showed that water temperatures and thermal stratification metrics were projected to clearly shift toward lake thermal conditions that are consistent with a warmer climate at the end of the 21st century, i.e. warmer surface and bottom temperatures and a stronger and longer duration of summer thermal stratification as a result of an earlier onset of stratification and later fall overturn. The simulated lake thermal structure was controlled by energy exchange between the lake surface and the atmosphere (surface heat fluxes) and wind stress. The individual surface heat flux components were projected to change substantially under future climate scenarios. However, the combined changes showed compensating effects, leading to a small overall change in total surface heat flux, that was still sufficient to lead to important changes in whole-lake temperature. On a seasonal scale, spring heating and autumnal cooling were projected to decrease, while only small changes were projected in winter and summer. An extended analysis during summer using 47 lakes showed that while all lakes gained heat during summer under all scenarios, differences in the amount of heat gained during historical and future conditions were small. Additionally, hydrodynamic lake models performed well in reproducing the magnitude and direction of changes in lake temperature and stratification metrics during storms and heatwaves. However, the lake model performance decreased in accuracy compared to non-extreme condition, which should be taken into account.

1D hydrodynamic lake models have been shown to be powerful tools to predict long-term and short-term climate-related changes in lake thermal dynamics, making an in-depth analysis of the surface heat fluxes possible.

  • Modelling
  • Climate change
  • Lakes
  • Thermal structure
  • Surface heat fluxes
  • Extreme events
Citation (ISO format)
AYALA ZAMORA, Ana Isabel. Modelling impact climate-related change on the thermal responses of lakes. 2023. doi: 10.13097/archive-ouverte/unige:171536
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Technical informations

Creation09/20/2023 9:51:14 AM
First validation09/20/2023 11:20:12 AM
Update time09/20/2023 11:20:12 AM
Status update09/20/2023 11:20:12 AM
Last indexation05/06/2024 5:00:36 PM
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