Background

It is now recognized that global and regional climate change has – and continues to have – important impacts on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Recent studies, for example, have revealed significant warming of lakes throughout the world (eg., Schneider and Hook, 2010; Hampton et al., 2008; Coats et al., 2006; Vollmer et al., 2005; Livingstone, 2003). Remarkably, the observed rate of lake warming is – in many cases – greater than that of the ambient air temperature (Schneider and Hook, 2010; Austin and Coleman, 2007; Lenters, 2004). These rapid, unprecedented changes in lake temperature have profound implications for lake hydrodynamics, productivity, and biotic communities (e.g., Kirillin, 2010; Tierney et al., 2010; Peeters et al., 2007; Verburg et al., 2003).

Thus, there is a significant need to assemble and synthesize global records of lake temperature from both in situ and remote sensing data sources. The Global Lake Temperature Collaboration (GLTC) began in the fall of 2010 to organize an international group of investigators with interest in and access to global lake temperature records (both in situ and satellite-based). This group currently involves 57 scientists from 15 countries across a wide range of institutions.

Motivation

The overall goal of the GLTC project is to utilize in situ and remotely sensed lake temperature data to address the following scientific questions:

  1. What are the global and regional patterns of lake warming (or cooling) over the past several decades, and are they concordant across space and time?
  2. What climatic and geographic factors control these patterns (e.g., air temperature, solar radiation, latitude, elevation, lake area, lake depth)?
  3. How do inferences from in situ records compare with those from satellite data (e.g., mean values, trends, interannual variability)?
  4. Do trends in lake surface temperature mimic those in deeper waters, and what does this imply for vertical mixing and stratification?
  5. What are the ecological consequences of the observed changes in lake temperature?

References:

Austin, J. and S. Colman. 2007. Lake Superior summer water temperatures are increasing more rapidly than regional air temperatures: A positive ice-albedo feedback. Geophysical Research Letters 34 L06604. doi: 10.1029/2006GL029021.

Coats, R., J. Perez-Losada, G. Schladow, R. Richards, and C. Goldman. 2006. The warming of Lake Tahoe. Climatic Change 76: 121-148.

Hampton, S.E., L.R. Izmest'eva, M.V. Moore, S.L. Katz, B. Dennis, and E.A. Silow. 2008. Sixty years of environmental change in the world's largest freshwater lake – Lake Baikal, Siberia. Global Change Biology 14: 1947-1958.

Kirillin, G. 2010. Modeling the impact of global warming on water temperatures and seasonal mixing regimes in small temperate lakes. Boreal Environment Research 15: 279-293.

Lenters, J.D. 2004. Trends in the Lake Superior water budget since 1948: A weakening seasonal cycle. Journal of Great Lakes Research 30: 20-40.

Livingstone, D.M. 2003. Impact of secular climate change on the thermal structure of a large temperate central European lake. Climatic Change 57: 205-225.

Peeters, F., D. Straile, A. Lorke, and D.M. Livingstone. 2007. Earlier onset of the spring phytoplankton bloom in lakes of the temperate zone in a warmer climate. Global Change Biology 13: 1898-1909.

Schneider, P., and S.J. Hook. 2010. Space observations of inland water bodies show rapid surface warming since 1985. Geophysical Research Letters 37 L22405. doi: 10.1029/2010GL045059.

Tierney, J.E., M.T. Mayes, N. Meyer, C. Johnson, P.W. Swarzenski, A.S. Cohen, and J.M. Russell. 2010. Late-twenteith-century warming in Lake Tanganyika unprecedented since AD 500. Nature Geoscience 3: 422-425.

Verburg, P., R.E. Hecky, and H. Kling. 2003. Ecological consequences of a century of warming in Lake Tanganyika. Science 301: 505-507.

Vollmer, M.K., H.A. Bootsma, R.E. Hecky, G. Patterson, J.D. Halfman, J.M. Edmond, D.H. Eccles, and R.F. Weiss. 2005. Deep-water warming trend in Lake Malawi, East Africa. Limnology and Oceanography 50: 727-732.