skip to main content

This content will become publicly available on February 1, 2025

Title: Understanding Lake Residence Time Across Spatial and Temporal Scales: A Modeling Analysis of Lake George, New York USA

Whole lake residence time has been associated with various water quality parameters, including harmful algal blooms. Despite observations of spatial variability in commonly measured lake water quality parameters, little attention is given to the spatial variability of residence time in lakes. In this paper we use water age as a surrogate for residence time and we examine its spatial and temporal distribution in 10 bays of varying size in Lake George, New York (USA). Using a validated hydrodynamic model against observations of water temperature and water currents, and using simulated water age, we show that the average residence time in most of the bays is less than 3 days. Timeseries of bay‐average water age shows that it can sharply decrease within 1 day due to a strong wind event. The average spatial distribution is shown to be non‐uniform, with only a small section of the bottom layer of the bays having a substantially greater age, which may be more than 1 week in certain bays. Snapshots of water age transects indicate that strong wind events substantially change the vertical distribution of water age in some bays, even to the extent of inverting the distribution. The substantial decreases of water age in the bays were associated with the shallowing and deepening of the thermocline. Our results highlight how variations in water residence times within lakes could introduce substantial variation in water quality attributes. Whole lake residence times may serve as a poor proxy to understand the dynamics of water masses, especially in large and morphologically complex waterbodies.

more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
American Geophysical Union
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Water Resources Research
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Snowdrifts formed by wind transported snow deposition represent a vital component of the earth surface processes on Arctic tundra. Snow accumulation on steep slopes particularly at the margins of rivers, coasts, lakes, and drained lake basins (DLBs) comprise a significant water storage component for the ecosystem during spring and summer snowmelt. The tundra landscape is in constant change as lakes drain, substantially altering the surface morphology that partially controls how snow drifts and accumulates throughout the cold seasons. Here, we combine field measurements, remote sensing observations, and snow modeling to investigate how lake drainage affects snow redistribution at Inigok on the Arctic Coastal Plain of Alaska, where the snow movement is controlled by wind. Field observations included measurements of snow depth using ground penetrating radar and probe. We mapped mid‐July snow cover and modeled snow redistribution before and after drainage simulation for 33 lakes (∼30 km2) in our study area (∼140 km2). Our results show the advantage of using a wide range of snow depth measurements on frozen lakes, DLBs, and upland to validate the snow modeling in order to capture the variability inherent in the landscape. The lake drainage simulation suggests an increase in snow storage of up to ∼24% at DLBs compared to extant lakes, ∼35% considering only snowdrifts (assumed as ≥1 m depth), and ∼4% considering the whole study area. This increase in snow accumulation could significantly impact the landscape when it melts, including wildlife, vegetation, biogeochemical processes, and potential natural hazards like snow‐dam outburst floods.

    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Growth of macroscale limnological research has been accompanied by an increase in secondary datasets compiled from multiple sources. We examined patterns of data availability in LAGOS‐NE, a dataset derived from 87 sources, to identify biases in availability of lake water quality data and to consider how such biases might affect perceived patterns at a subcontinental scale. Of eight common water quality parameters, variables indicative of trophic state (Secchi, chlorophyll, and total P) were most abundant in terms of total observations, lakes sampled, and long‐term records, whereas carbon variables (true color and dissolved organic carbon) were scarcest. Most data were collected during summer from larger (≥ 20 ha) lakes over 1–3 yr. Approximately 80% of data for each variable is derived from ~ 20% of sampled lakes. Long‐term (≥ 20 yr) records were rare and spatially clustered. Data availability is linked to major management challenges (eutrophication and acid rain), citizen science, and a few programs that quantify C and N variables. Resampling exercises suggested that correcting for the surface area sampling bias did not substantially change statistical distributions of the eight variables. Further, estimating a lake's long‐term median Secchi, chlorophyll, and total P using average record lengths had high uncertainty, but modest increases in sample size to > 5 yr yielded estimates with manageable error. Although the specific nature of sampling biases may vary among regions, we expect that they are widespread. Thus, large integrated datasets can and should be used to identify tendencies in how lakes are studied and to address these biases as part broad‐scale limnological investigations.

    more » « less
  3. This dataset contains monthly average output files from the iCAM6 simulations used in the manuscript "Enhancing understanding of the hydrological cycle via pairing of process-oriented and isotope ratio tracers," in review at the Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems. A file corresponding to each of the tagged and isotopic variables used in this manuscript is included. Files are at 0.9° latitude x 1.25° longitude, and are in NetCDF format. Data from two simulations are included: 1) a simulation where the atmospheric model was "nudged" to ERA5 wind and surface pressure fields, by adding an additional tendency (see section 3.1 of associated manuscript), and 2) a simulation where the atmospheric state was allowed to freely evolve, using only boundary conditions imposed at the surface and top of atmosphere. Specific information about each of the variables provided is located in the "usage notes" section below. Associated article abstract: The hydrologic cycle couples the Earth's energy and carbon budgets through evaporation, moisture transport, and precipitation. Despite a wealth of observations and models, fundamental limitations remain in our capacity to deduce even the most basic properties of the hydrological cycle, including the spatial pattern of the residence time (RT) of water in the atmosphere and the mean distance traveled from evaporation sources to precipitation sinks. Meanwhile, geochemical tracers such as stable water isotope ratios provide a tool to probe hydrological processes, yet their interpretation remains equivocal despite several decades of use. As a result, there is a need for new mechanistic tools that link variations in water isotope ratios to underlying hydrological processes. Here we present a new suite of “process-oriented tags,” which we use to explicitly trace hydrological processes within the isotopically enabled Community Atmosphere Model, version 6 (iCAM6). Using these tags, we test the hypotheses that precipitation isotope ratios respond to parcel rainout, variations in atmospheric RT, and preserve information regarding meteorological conditions during evaporation. We present results for a historical simulation from 1980 to 2004, forced with winds from the ERA5 reanalysis. We find strong evidence that precipitation isotope ratios record information about atmospheric rainout and meteorological conditions during evaporation, but little evidence that precipitation isotope ratios vary with water vapor RT. These new tracer methods will enable more robust linkages between observations of isotope ratios in the modern hydrologic cycle or proxies of past terrestrial environments and the environmental processes underlying these observations.   Details about the simulation setup can be found in section 3 of the associated open-source manuscript, "Enhancing understanding of the hydrological cycle via pairing of process‐oriented and isotope ratio tracers." In brief, we conducted two simulations of the atmosphere from 1980-2004 using the isotope-enabled version of the Community Atmosphere Model 6 (iCAM6) at 0.9x1.25° horizontal resolution, and with 30 vertical hybrid layers spanning from the surface to ~3 hPa. In the first simulation, wind and surface pressure fields were "nudged" toward the ERA5 reanalysis dataset by adding a nudging tendency, preventing the model from diverging from observed/reanalysis wind fields. In the second simulation, no additional nudging tendency was included, and the model was allowed to evolve 'freely' with only boundary conditions provided at the top (e.g., incoming solar radiation) and bottom (e.g., observed sea surface temperatures) of the model. In addition to the isotopic variables, our simulation included a suite of 'process-oriented tracers,' which we describe in section 2 of the manuscript. These variables are meant to track a property of water associated with evaporation, condensation, or atmospheric transport. Metadata are provided about each of the files below; moreover, since the attached files are NetCDF data - this information is also provided with the data files. NetCDF metadata can be accessed using standard tools (e.g., ncdump). Each file has 4 variables: the tagged quantity, and the associated coordinate variables (time, latitude, longitude). The latter three are identical across all files, only the tagged quantity changes. Twelve files are provided for the nudged simulation, and an additional three are provided for the free simulations: Nudged simulation files iCAM6_nudged_1980-2004_mon_RHevap: Mass-weighted mean evaporation source property: RH (%) with respect to surface temperature. iCAM6_nudged_1980-2004_mon_Tevap: Mass-weighted mean evaporation source property: surface temperature in Kelvin iCAM6_nudged_1980-2004_mon_Tcond: Mass-weighted mean condensation property: temperature (K) iCAM6_nudged_1980-2004_mon_columnQ: Total (vertically integrated) precipitable water (kg/m2).  Not a tagged quantity, but necessary to calculate depletion times in section 4.3 (e.g., Fig. 11 and 12). iCAM6_nudged_1980-2004_mon_d18O: Precipitation d18O (‰ VSMOW) iCAM6_nudged_1980-2004_mon_d18Oevap_0: Mass-weighted mean evaporation source property - d18O of the evaporative flux (e.g., the 'initial' isotope ratio prior to condensation), (‰ VSMOW) iCAM6_nudged_1980-2004_mon_dxs: Precipitation deuterium excess (‰ VSMOW) - note that precipitation d2H can be calculated from this file and the precipitation d18O as d2H = d-excess - 8*d18O. iCAM6_nudged_1980-2004_mon_dexevap_0: Mass-weighted mean evaporation source property - deuterium excess of the evaporative flux iCAM6_nudged_1980-2004_mon_lnf: Integrated property - ln(f) calculated from the constant-fractionation d18O tracer (see section 3.2). iCAM6_nudged_1980-2004_mon_precip: Total precipitation rate in m/s. Note there is an error in the metadata in this file - it is total precipitation, not just convective precipitation. iCAM6_nudged_1980-2004_mon_residencetime: Mean atmospheric water residence time (in days). iCAM6_nudged_1980-2004_mon_transportdistance: Mean atmospheric water transport distance (in km). Free simulation files iCAM6_free_1980-2004_mon_d18O: Precipitation d18O (‰ VSMOW) iCAM6_free_1980-2004_mon_dxs: Precipitation deuterium excess (‰ VSMOW) - note that precipitation d2H can be calculated from this file and the precipitation d18O as d2H = d-excess - 8*d18O. iCAM6_free_1980-2004_mon_precip: Total precipitation rate in m/s. Note there is an error in the metadata in this file - it is total precipitation, not just convective precipitation. 
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    Lake water residence time and depth are known to be strong predictors of phosphorus (P) retention. However, there is substantial variation in P retention among lakes with the same depth and residence time. One potential explanatory factor for this variation is differences in freshwater connectivity of lakes (i.e., the type and amount of freshwater connections to a lake), which can influence watershed P trapping or the particulate load fraction of P delivered to lakes via stream connections. To examine the relationship between P retention and connectivity, we quantified several different measures of connectivity including those that reflect downstream transport of material (sediment, water, and nutrients) within lake‐stream networks (lake‐stream‐based metrics) as well as those that reflect transport of material from hillslope and riparian areas adjacent to watershed stream networks (stream‐based metrics). Because it is not always clear what spatial extent is appropriate for determining functional differences in connectivity among lakes, we compared connectivity metrics at two important spatial extents: the lake subwatershed extent and the lake watershed extent. We found that variation in P retention among lakes was more strongly associated with connectivity metrics measured at the broader lake watershed extent rather than metrics measured at the finer lake subwatershed extent. Our results suggest that both connectivity between lakes and streams as well as connectivity of lakes and their terrestrial watersheds influence P retention.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Strong and sustained winds can drive dramatic hydrodynamic responses in density‐stratified lakes, with the associated transport and mixing impacting water quality, ecosystem function, and the stratification itself. Analytical expressions offer insight into the dynamics of stratified lakes during severe wind events. However, it can be difficult to predict the aggregate response of a natural system to the superposition of hydrodynamic phenomena in the presence of complex bathymetry and when forced by variable wind patterns. Using an array of current, temperature, and water quality measurements at the upwind shore, we detail the hydrodynamic response of deep, rotationally influenced Lake Tahoe to three strong wind events during late spring. Sustained southwesterly winds in excess of 10 m s−1drove upwelling at the upwind shore (characteristic of non‐rotational upwelling setup), with upward excursions of deep water exceeding 70 m for the strongest event. Hypolimnetic water, with elevated concentrations of chlorophyllaand nitrate, was advected toward the nearshore, but this water rapidly returned to depth with the relaxation of upwelling after the winds subsided. The relaxation of upwelling exhibited rotational influence, highlighted by an along‐shore, cyclonic front characteristic of a Kelvin wave‐driven coastal jet, with velocities exceeding 25 cm s−1. The rotational front also produced downwelling to 100 m, transporting dissolved oxygen to depth. More complex internal wave features followed the passage of these powerful internal waves. Results emphasize the complexity of these superimposed hydrodynamic phenomena in natural systems, providing a conceptual reference for the role upwelling events may play in lake ecosystems.

    more » « less