Twenty years of spatially coherent deepwater warming in lakes across Europe related to the North Atlantic Oscillation

Dokulil, Martin T., Albert Jagsch, Glen D. George, Orlane Anneville, Thomas Jankowski, Bernd Wahl, Brigitte Lenhart, Thorsten Blenckner, Katrin Teubner

Limnol. Oceanogr., 51(6), 2006, 2787-2793 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2006.51.6.2787

ABSTRACT: Twenty to fifty years of annual mean deepwater (hypolimnetic) temperature data from twelve deep lakes spaced across Europe (2°95'W to 14°0'E, 46°27' to 59°00'N) show a high degree of coherence among lakes, particularly within geographic regions. Hypolimnetic temperatures vary between years but increased consistently in all lakes by about 0.1-0.2°C per decade. The observed increase was related to the weather generated by largescale climatic processes over the Atlantic. To be effective, the climatic signal from the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) must affect deep lakes in spring before the onset of thermal stratification. The most consistent predictor of hypolimnetic temperature is the mean NAO index for January-May (NAOJ-M), which explains 22-63% of the interannual variation in deepwater temperature in 10 of the 12 lakes. The two exceptions are remote, less wind-exposed alpine valley lakes. In four of the deepest lakes, the climate signal fades with depth. The projected hypolimnetic temperature increase of approximately 1°C in 100 yr, obtained using a conservative approach, seems small. Effects on mixing conditions, thermal stability, or the replenishment of oxygen to deep waters result in accumulation of nutrients, which in turn will affect the trophic status and the food web.

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