Simulated climate change effects on year-round water temperatures in temperate zone lakes

H. G. Stefan, X. Fang, M. Hondzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


A deterministic, one-dimensional model is presented to simulate daily water temperature profiles and associated ice and snow covers for dimictic and polymictic lakes of the temperate zone. The lake parameters required as model input are surface area (A(s)), maximum depth (H(MAX)), and Secchi depth (z(s)), the latter, used as a measure of light attenuation and trophic state. The model is driven by daily weather data and operates year-round over multiple years. The model has been tested with extensive data (over 5,000 temperature points). Standard error between simulated and measured water temperatures is 1.4 °C in the open water season and 0.5 °C in the ice cover season. The model is applied to simulate the sensitivity of Minnesota lake water temperature characteristics to climate change. The projected climate changes due to a doubling of atmospheric CO2 are obtained from the output of the Canadian Climate Center General Circulation Model (CCC GCM) and the Goddard Institute of Space Studies General Circulation Model (GISS GCM). Simulated lake temperature characteristics have been plotted in a coordinate system with a lake geometry ratio (A(s)/0.25/H(MAX)) on one axis and Secchi depth on the other. The lake geometry ratio expresses a lake's susceptibility to stratification. By interpolation, the sensitivity of lake temperature characteristics to changes of water depth and Secchi depth under the projected climate scenarios can therefore be obtained. Selected lake temperature characteristics simulated with past climate conditions (1961-1979) and with a projected 2 x CO2 climate scenario as input are presented herein in graphical form. The simulation results show that under the 2 x CO2 climate scenario ice formation is delayed and ice cover period is shortened. These changes cause water temperature modifications throughout the year.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)547-576
Number of pages30
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998


Dive into the research topics of 'Simulated climate change effects on year-round water temperatures in temperate zone lakes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this