Small lakes show muted climate change signal in deepwater temperatures

Luke A. Winslow, Jordan S. Read, Gretchen J.A. Hansen, Paul C. Hanson

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Water temperature observations were collected from 142 lakes across Wisconsin, USA, to examine variation in temperature of lakes exposed to similar regional climate. Whole lake water temperatures increased across the state from 1990 to 2012, with an average trend of 0.042°C yr-1 ± 0.01°C yr-1. In large (>0.5 km2) lakes, the positive temperature trend was similar across all depths. In small lakes (<0.5 km2), the warming trend was restricted to shallow waters, with no significant temperature trend observed in water >0.5 times the maximum lake depth. The differing response of small versus large lakes is potentially a result of wind-sheltering reducing turbulent mixing magnitude in small lakes. These results demonstrate that small lakes respond differently to climate change than large lakes, suggesting that current predictions of impacts to lakes from climate change may require modification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-361
Number of pages7
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 28 2015
Externally publishedYes

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© 2015. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.


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