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

9 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

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network for organizing the GLEON 21 meeting, where this work was initially conceived. B. Yang and M. G. Wells acknowledges support from the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks (Grant LS‐14‐15‐011) and the NSERC Discovery program (Grant RGPIN‐2016‐06542). The Lake Superior observations were supported by National Science Foundation Division of Ocean Sciences grant OCE‐0825633 and NSF RAPID (Grant OCE‐1445567). A. Laas acknowledges support from the Estonian Research Council Grant PSG32. G. A. Weyhenmeyer acknowledges the Swedish Infrastructure for Ecosystem Science (SITES) for provisioning of data from Lake Erken. SITES receives funding through the Swedish Research Council under the grant 2017‐00635. Lake Mendota and Crystal Bog observations were supported by the US National Science Foundation grant DEB‐1440297 and grant DEB‐1856224. RMP acknowledges support from US National Science Foundation grants DEB 17276 and DEB 1950170. C. C. Carey acknowledges support from US National Science Foundation grant DEB 1753639 and 1933016. RMP acknowledges support from US National Science Foundation grants DEB 1754265, DEB 1754276, DEB 1950170. The data for the Pocono lakes were collected with support from Craig Williamson's Global Change Limnology Laboratory and Miami University, and from Kevin Rose's Global Water Laboratory at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Alexie Lake data collections were supported by DeBeers Canada and Fisheries & Oceans Canada.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.


  • ice
  • stratification
  • winter limnology


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