A New Thermal Categorization of Ice-Covered Lakes

Bernard Yang, Mathew G. Wells, Bailey C. McMeans, Hilary A. Dugan, James A. Rusak, Gesa A. Weyhenmeyer, Jennifer A. Brentrup, Allison R. Hrycik, Alo Laas, Rachel M. Pilla, Jay A. Austin, Paul J. Blanchfield, Cayelan C. Carey, Matthew M. Guzzo, Noah R. Lottig, Murray D. MacKay, Trevor A. Middel, Don C. Pierson, Junbo Wang, Joelle D. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Scopus citations


Lakes are traditionally classified based on their thermal regime and trophic status. While this classification adequately captures many lakes, it is not sufficient to understand seasonally ice-covered lakes, the most common lake type on Earth. We describe the inverse thermal stratification in 19 highly varying lakes and derive a model that predicts the temperature profile as a function of wind stress, area, and depth. The results suggest an additional subdivision of seasonally ice-covered lakes to differentiate underice stratification. When ice forms in smaller and deeper lakes, inverse stratification will form with a thin buoyant layer of cold water (near 0°C) below the ice, which remains above a deeper 4°C layer. In contrast, the entire water column can cool to ∼0°C in larger and shallower lakes. We suggest these alternative conditions for dimictic lakes be termed “cryostratified” and “cryomictic.”.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020GL091374
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 3 2021

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  • ice
  • stratification
  • winter limnology


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