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A New Thermal Categorization of Ice-covered Lakes based on Under-ice Temperature Profiles: Possible Implications on Winter Physical and Biological Processes

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 under-ice stratification. When ice forms in smaller and deeper lakes, inverse stratification will form with a thin buoyant layer of cold water (near 0oC) below the ice, which remains above a deeper 4oC layer. In contrast, the entire water column can cool to ~0oC in larger and shallower lakes. We suggest these alternative conditions for dimictic lakes be termed “cryostratified” and “cryomictic.” We will also discuss the possible implications on late winter radiatively driven convection, and consequently on the abundance of fish and oxygen over winter.

Event series  Brewer-Wilson Seminar Series