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