Alpine glacier-fed turbid lakes are discontinuous cold polymictic rather than dimictic

Glacier retreat as a consequence of climate change influences freshwater ecosystems in manifold ways, yet the physical and chemical bases of these effects are poorly studied. Here, we characterize how water temperature differs between alpine lakes with and without direct glacier influence on seasonal and diurnal timescales. Using high temporal resolution monitoring of temperature in 4 lakes located in a catchment influenced by glacier retreat, we reported unexpectedly high surface temperatures, even in proglacial lakes located 2600 ma.s.l. Cold glacier meltwater and low nighttime air temperatures caused a distinct diurnal pattern of water temperature in the water column of glacier-influenced lakes. Precipitation onto glacier surfaces apparently leads to rapid cooling of the glacier-fed lakes and disrupts the thermal stratification with several mixing events during the summer. Taken together, these mechanisms contribute to the unique seasonal and diurnal dynamics of glacier-influenced lakes that contrast with the typical dimictic pattern of clear alpine lakes and represent an example of discontinuous cold polymictic lake type. This work contributes to the basic description of how climate and meteorology affect the physical properties of an increasingly common lake type.

Published in:
Inland Waters, 7, 1, 45-54
Ambleside, Freshwater Biological Assoc

 Record created 2017-09-05, last modified 2018-03-17

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