Physical and chemical impacts of a major storm on a temperate lake: a taste of things to come?

Woolway, R. Iestyn; Simpson, John H.; Spiby, David; Feuchtmayr, Heidrun; Powell, Ben; Maberly, Stephen. 2018 Physical and chemical impacts of a major storm on a temperate lake: a taste of things to come? Climatic Change, 151 (2). 333-347.

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Extreme weather can have a substantial influence on lakes and is expected to become more frequent with climate change. We explored the influence of one particular extreme event, Storm Ophelia, on the physical and chemical environment of England’s largest lake, Windermere. We found that the substantial influence of Ophelia on meteorological conditions at Windermere, in particular wind speed, resulted in a 25-fold increase (relative to the study-period average) in the wind energy flux at the lake-air interface. Following Ophelia, there was a short-lived mixing event in which the Schmidt stability decreased by over 100 Jm−2 and the thermocline deepened by over 10 m during a 12-h period. As a result of changes to the strength of stratification, Ophelia also changed the internal seiche regime of Windermere with the dominant seiche period increasing from ~ 17 h pre-storm to ~ 21 h post-storm. Following Ophelia, there was an upwelling of cold and low-oxygenated waters at the southern-end of the lake. This had a substantial influence on the main outflow of Windermere, the River Leven, where dissolved oxygen concentrations decreased by ~ 48%, from 9.3 to 4.8 mg L−1, while at the mid-lake monitoring station in Windermere, it decreased by only ~ 3%. This study illustrates that the response of a lake to extreme weather can cause important effects downstream, the influence of which may not be evident at the lake surface. To understand the impact of future extreme events fully, the whole lake and downstream-river system need to be studied together.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Water Resources (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0165-0009
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 11 Oct 2018 12:58 +0 (UTC)

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