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The Heat Budget of Lakes

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Limnological Analyses


One of the most important and interesting characteristics of a lake is its thermal structure. The heat content of a body of water is of vital importance in limnology. The metabolism, physiology, and behavior of aquatic organisms are related directly to the temperature of the aquatic environment. Extreme temperatures restrict the growth and distribution of plants, animals, and microbes. Because of the high specific heat of water, large volumes of water change temperature relatively slowly. Therefore, large lakes tend to moderate local climates, provide longer growing seasons for aquatic life, and serve as integrated recorders of recent climatic phenomena. For these and other reasons, the thermal structure and heat content of a body of water must be known with some degree of accuracy in limnological studies.

The use of the word “budget”, ad normally defined, is incorrect but the term is firmly entrenched jin the literature of limnology. Reference is to the heat storage capacity of a lake.

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© 1991 Springer Science+Business Media New York

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Wetzel, R.G., Likens, G.E. (1991). The Heat Budget of Lakes. In: Limnological Analyses. Springer, New York, NY.

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  • Print ISBN: 978-1-4757-4100-1

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