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

Published in Geophysical Research Letters, v. 44(17):8875-8883

Woolway, R. I., Verburg, P., Merchant, C. J., Lenters, J. D., Hamilton, D. P., Brookes, J., Kelly, S., Hook, S., Laas, A., Pierson, D., Rimmer, A., Rusak, J. A. Jones, I. D.

Publication year 2017

Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, UK
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research,Hamilton, New Zealand
Center for Limnology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
AustralianRivers Institute, Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Environment Institute, School of Biological Sciences,University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Marine Institute, Newport, Ireland
Earth and Ocean Science,School of Natural Sciences, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, CaliforniaInstitute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA
Centre for Limnology, Institute of Agricultural and EnvironmentalSciences, Estonian University of Life Sciences, Tartu, Estonia,
Department of Ecology and Genetics/Limnology, UppsalaUniversity, Uppsala, Sweden,
Yigal Allon Kinneret Limnological Laboratory, Israel Oceanographic and LimnologicalResearch, Migdal, Israel,
Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, Dorset Environmental Science Centre,Dorset, Ontario, Canada,
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster, UK

IAI Program


R.I.W. was funded by EUSTACE which received funding from the EU Horizon 2020 Programme for Research and Innovation (grant 640171). We thank individuals that contributed data included in this analysis: Jon Cole, Brittany Potter, Peter Staehr, Hilary Swain, Gerardo Rivera, and Elvira de Eyto. This work benefited from participation in GLEON and NETLAKE. J.A.R acknowledges funding from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (grant CRN3038). J.D.L. was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Arctic Observing Network (AON grant 1107792). Data collection for Võrtsjärv was supported by the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research (grant IUT21-2). 

IAI Project CRN3038
PDFLatitude and lake size are important predictors of over‐lake atmospheric stability.pdf


Atmospheric boundary layer stability above lakes varies predictably across
temporal and spatial scales 
The atmospheric boundary layer above lakes is more often unstable toward the tropics annually and above smaller lakes during summer
The effects of latitude and lake size on lake-atmosphere interactions have implications for heat loss from lakes and the hydrologic cycle


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, towards 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.