Density current intrusions in an ice-covered Urban Lake

Christopher Ellis, Jerry Champlin, Heinz G. Stefan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Evidence is presented that snowmelt runoff from an urban watershed can produce density current intrusions (underflows) in a lake. Several episodes of density current intrusions are documented. Water temperatures and salinities measured near the bottom of a 10 m deep Minneapolis lake during the late winter warming periods in 1989, 1990, 1991, and 1995 show significant rapid changes which are correlated with observed higher air temperatures and snowmelt runoff. The snowmelt runoff entering this particular lake (Ryan Lake) has increased electrical conductivity, salinity, and density. The source of the salinity is the salt spread on urban streets in the winter. Heating of littoral waters in spring may also contribute to the occurrence of the sinking flows, but is clearly not the only cause.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1363-1374
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American Water Resources Association
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1997


  • Lakes
  • Limnology
  • Snow and ice hydrology
  • Surface water hydrology
  • Urban hydrology
  • Water quality
  • Water temperature


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