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Weinberger, Stefan and Vetter, Mark (2014): Lake heat content and stability variation due to climate change: coupled regional climate model (REMO)-lake model (DYRESM) analysis. In: Journal of Limnology, Vol. 73, No. 1: pp. 109-121

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Climate change-derived higher air temperatures and the resulting increase in lake surface temperatures are known to influence the physical, biological and chemical processes of water bodies. By using hydrodynamic lake models coupled with regional climate models the potential future impact of a changing climate can be investigated. The present study hence elucidates limno-physical changes at the peri-Alpine, 83-m deep, currently dimictic Ammersee in southeastern Germany, both to underline the role of lakes as sentinels of climate change and provide a sound basis for further limnological investigations. This was realised by using water temperatures simulated with the hydrodynamic model DYRESM for the period 2041-2050, based on the results of the regional climate model REMO (IPCC A1B emission scenario). Modelling of future heat content resulted in a projected increase in the upper 3 m of the epilimnion from end of March to mid-November, whereas a decrease in future total heat content (January-December) of the entire water column was simulated compared to that observed in 1997-2007. Lake thermal stability is projected to be higher in the period 2041-2050 than in 1985-2007. Stratification is expected to occur earlier and to last longer in the future than the pattern observed in 1985-2007. The future mean May-June depth of the thermocline is simulated to be situated above its past average vertical position, whereas an increase of mean thermocline depth is projected for the beginning of August to October. Furthermore, the mean May-October thickness of the metalimnion is simulated to increase. Additionally, we investigated the sensitivity of these limno-physical results to changes in the model parameter light extinction coefficient which determines how the solar radiation is absorbed by the lake water. The elucidation of physical changes at Ammersee by means of a regional climate model provides a sound basis on which to face the new challenges of lake modelling.

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