Sensitivity of summer Lake Superior thermal structure to meteorological forcing

Jay A. Austin and Joshua Allen

Limnol. Oceanogr., 56(3), 2011, 1141-1154 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2011.56.3.1141

ABSTRACT: We use a one-dimensional model, forced with realistic meteorological measurements, to determine to first order the sensitivity of summer surface water temperature, heat content, and vertical stratification scale to three forcing variables: air temperature, wind speed, and previous winter ice cover, all three of which have exhibited long-term trends over the last few decades. Summer-averaged surface temperature increases with increased air temperature, decreased ice cover, and decreased wind speed. Differences in heat content between model runs with differing initial temperatures (a proxy for winter ice cover) decrease over the course of the season, but significant differences present in late spring persist through the summer season. Interannual variability in wind speed is the predominant driver of variability in the vertical stratification scale.

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