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Northern Hemisphere Atmospheric Stilling Accelerates Lake Thermal Responses to a Warming World

Journal article
Authors R. I. Woolway
C. J. Merchant
J. Van Den Hoek
Cesar Azorin-Molina
P. Noges
A. Laas
E. B. Mackay
I. D. Jones
Published in Geophysical Research Letters
Volume 46
Issue 21
Pages 11983-11992
ISSN 0094-8276
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 11983-11992
Language en
Keywords lake, climate, wind, wind-speed, water temperature, climate-change, mixing regimes, stratification, trends, homogenization, consequences, variability, performance
Subject categories Earth and Related Environmental Sciences


Climate change, in particular the increase in air temperature, has been shown to influence lake thermal dynamics, with climatic warming resulting in higher surface temperatures, stronger stratification, and altered mixing regimes. Less studied is the influence on lake thermal dynamics of atmospheric stilling, the decrease in near-surface wind speed observed in recent decades. Here we use a lake model to assess the influence of atmospheric stilling, on lake thermal dynamics across the Northern Hemisphere. From 1980 to 2016, lake thermal responses to warming have accelerated as a result of atmospheric stilling. Lake surface temperatures and thermal stability have changed at respective rates of 0.33 and 0.38 degrees C/decade, with atmospheric stilling contributing 15% and 27% of the calculated changes, respectively. Atmospheric stilling also resulted in a lengthening of stratification, contributing 23% of the calculated changes. Our results demonstrate that atmospheric stilling has influenced lake thermal responses to warming.

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