Physical Processes for In-Lake Restoration: Destratification and Mixing

  • Max M. GibbsEmail author
  • Clive Howard-Williams


Stratification in lakes is a natural phenomenon caused by solar heating resulting in development of a thermocline. This becomes a barrier to heat, dissolved oxygen and dissolved nutrient transfer between the upper and lower water column. Nutrient runoff from land and phytoplankton growth in lakes can cause bottom waters to become oxygen depleted and potentially unsuitable as a habitat for aquatic biota. Conversely, reduced depth of mixing above the thermocline provides a high light field that enhances algal and cyanobacteria growth and, in nutrient rich conditions, the lake becomes degraded, the natural lake eutrophication process. Reducing the nutrient load on the lake may not be possible and alternative actions are required such as minimising or removing the magnifying effects of thermal stratification on the eutrophication process. This chapter describes issues associated with thermal stratification in lakes and examines the possible options for removing or preventing thermal stratification by mixing as a management strategy for the rehabilitation of degraded lakes. The most common mixing device is aeration, using bubble plumes to induce vertical movement of the water column. Sparge line aeration systems can be designed to suit most water bodies from small ponds to large reservoirs and natural lakes, with the maximum size being determined by economics: a generic design is described in detail. Also described are alternative water column mixing systems and the option of bottom water re-oxygenation without destratification. Discussions are based around strategies adopted for the ten water supply reservoirs for Auckland City (New Zealand), used as a case study.


Thermal stratification Destratification Lake mixing devices Bubble plumes Hypolimnetic oxygenation 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research Ltd.HamiltonNew Zealand
  2. 2.National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd.ChristchurchNew Zealand

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