Climatic Change

, Volume 124, Issue 1–2, pp 301–315 | Cite as

Lake surface temperatures in a changing climate: a global sensitivity analysis

  • Martin SchmidEmail author
  • Stefan Hunziker
  • Alfred Wüest


We estimate the effects of climatic changes, as predicted by six climate models, on lake surface temperatures on a global scale, using the lake surface equilibrium temperature as a proxy. We evaluate interactions between different forcing variables, the sensitivity of lake surface temperatures to these variables, as well as differences between climate zones. Lake surface equilibrium temperatures are predicted to increase by 70 to 85 % of the increase in air temperatures. On average, air temperature is the main driver for changes in lake surface temperatures, and its effect is reduced by ~10 % by changes in other meteorological variables. However, the contribution of these other variables to the variance is ~40 % of that of air temperature, and their effects can be important at specific locations. The warming increases the importance of longwave radiation and evaporation for the lake surface heat balance compared to shortwave radiation and convective heat fluxes. We discuss the consequences of our findings for the design and evaluation of different types of studies on climate change effects on lakes.


Longwave Radiation Lake Surface Force Variable Climate Change Effect Surface Mixed Layer 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We acknowledge the modeling groups, the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI) and the WCRP’s Working Group on Coupled Modelling (WGCM) for their roles in making available the WCRP’s CMIP3 multi-model dataset. Support of this dataset is provided by the Office of Science, U.S. Department of Energy. We thank John C. Little for contributing to the literature review, David M. Livingstone and Andy F. Lotter for reviewing a previous version of this manuscript, and B. Henderson-Sellers and three anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.

Supplementary material

10584_2014_1087_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (348 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 347 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Schmid
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stefan Hunziker
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Alfred Wüest
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Surface Waters—Research and ManagementEawag, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and TechnologyKastanienbaumSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of GeographyUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Institute of Geography and Oeschger Centre for Climate Change ResearchUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  4. 4.Physics of Aquatic Systems Laboratory, Margaretha Kamprad ChairEPFL, ENAC-IIE-APHYSLausanneSwitzerland

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