Simulating 2368 temperate lakes reveals weak coherence in stratification phenology

Jordan S. Read, Luke A. Winslow, Gretchen J.A. Hansen, Jamon Van Den Hoek, Paul C. Hanson, Louise C. Bruce, Corey D. Markfort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Changes in water temperatures resulting from climate warming can alter the structure and function of aquatic ecosystems. Lake-specific physical characteristics may play a role in mediating individual lake responses to climate. Past mechanistic studies of lake-climate interactions have simulated generic lake classes at large spatial scales or performed detailed analyses of small numbers of real lakes. Understanding the diversity of lake responses to climate change across landscapes requires a hybrid approach that couples site-specific lake characteristics with broad-scale environmental drivers. This study provides a substantial advancement in lake ecosystem modeling by combining open-source tools with freely available continental-scale data to mechanistically model daily temperatures for 2368 Wisconsin lakes over three decades (1979-2011). The model accurately predicted observed surface layer temperatures (RMSE: 1.74. °C) and the presence/absence of stratification (81.1% agreement). Among-lake coherence was strong for surface temperatures and weak for the timing of stratification, suggesting individual lake characteristics mediate some - but not all - ecologically relevant lake responses to climate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-150
Number of pages9
JournalEcological Modelling
StatePublished - Nov 10 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by U.S. Geological Survey NCCWSC grant 10909172, NSF grant DEB-0941510 (Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network), the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration (Project F-95-P), the U.S. Geological Survey Center for Integrated Data Analytics, and NSF grants DEB-0822700 (North Temperate Lakes Long-Term Ecological Research), and IIS-1344272 (INSPIRE). Mathew Hipsey and Casper Boon (the Aquatic Ecosystem Dynamics group at The University of Western Australia) shared modeling and development expertise for GLM. We thank Jereme Gaeta, Steven Greb, Matthew Diebel, Alex Latzka, Emily Stanley, Kevin Rose, Dale Robertson, Emily Read, David Blodgett, Ivan Suftin, Jordan Walker, Meredith Pavlick Warren, and Jake Vander Zanden for their contributions to this manuscript. Tim Kratz and Stephen Carpenter helped improve this article with thoughtful reviews. Two anonymous reviewers contributed substantially to the improvement of our original manuscript. We also thank the Ecological Modeling editorial staff.

Copyright 2014 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Climate change
  • Coherence
  • Lake temperature modeling
  • Limnology
  • Stratification
  • Water temperature


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