Complex effects of winter warming on the physicochemical characteristics of a deep lake

Straile, Dietmar, Klaus Jöhnk, Henno Rossknecht

Limnol. Oceanogr., 48(4), 2003, 1432-1438 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2003.48.4.1432

ABSTRACT: Recent winter warming over Central Europe associated with a positive phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) strongly influenced the thermal and water column stability properties of deep Lake Constance (zmean = 101 m). Volumetrically weighted average water temperatures have increased since the 1960s by an average of 0.017°C yr-1, and its interannual variability was strongly related to the variability in winter air temperature and the NAO winter index (NAOW). The influence of NAOW on water temperature was more persistent than its influence on air temperature. The seasonal persistence of the NAOW signal increased with water depth. Deep-water temperatures were related to the NAOW from one spring mixing period to the next. This caused a time lag of 1 yr in the response of deep-water winter temperatures to the NAOW. Reduced winter cooling during high-NAOW years resulted in the persistence of small temperature gradients that possibly resisted complete mixing. This, in turn, resulted in less upward mixing of nutrients (total phosphorus and total silica), which accumulated in the hypolimnion during the previous stratification period. A second effect of incomplete mixing was the lack of the replenishment of deepwater oxygen during high-NAOW years. Hence, besides its strong impact on the thermal regime, climate variability influenced both the causes (nutrient supply for phytoplankton growth) and symptoms (the degree of hypolimnetic oxygen deficiency) of trophic changes in Lake Constance.

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