Latitude and lake size are important predictors of over-lake atmospheric stability

TitleLatitude and lake size are important predictors of over-lake atmospheric stability
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsR. Woolway I, Verburg P, Merchant CJ, Lenters JD, Hamilton DP, Brookes J, Kelly S, Hook S, Laas A, Pierson D, Rimmer A, Rusak JA, Jones ID
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Date Published09/2017
Keywordsatmosphere, lake, Lakes, lakes and inland seas), Land/atmosphere interactions, Large bodies of water (e.g., Limnology

Turbulent fluxes across the air-water interface are integral to determining lake heat budgets, evaporation, and carbon emissions from lakes. The stability of the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) influences the exchange of turbulent energy. We explore the differences in over-lake ABL stability using data from 39 globally distributed lakes. The frequency of unstable ABL conditions varied between lakes from 71 to 100% of the time, with average air temperatures typically several degrees below the average lake surface temperature. This difference increased with decreasing latitude, resulting in a more frequently unstable ABL and a more efficient energy transfer to and from the atmosphere, toward the tropics. In addition, during summer the frequency of unstable ABL conditions decreased with increasing lake surface area. The dependency of ABL stability on latitude and lake size has implications for heat loss and carbon fluxes from lakes, the hydrologic cycle, and climate change effects.

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