Evaporation from Lake Superior: 1. Physical controls and processes

  • Sites: US-GL1
  • (2011/08/19) Evaporation from Lake Superior: 1. Physical controls and processes, Journal of Great Lakes Research, 37(4), 707-716. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jglr.2011.08.009
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  • The surface energy balance of Lake Superior was measured using the eddy covariance method at a remote, offshore site at 0.5-h intervals from June 2008 through November 2010. Pronounced seasonal patterns in the surface energy balance were observed, with a five-month delay between maximum summer net radiation and maximum winter latent and sensible heat fluxes. Late season (winter) evaporation and sensible heat losses from the lake typically occurred in two- to three-day-long events, and were associated with significant release of stored heat from the lake. The majority of the evaporative heat loss (70–88%) and sensible heat loss (97–99%) occurred between October and March, with 464 mm (2008–2009) and 645 mm (2009–2010) of evaporative water loss occurring over the water year starting October 1. Evaporation was proportional to the horizontal wind speed, inversely proportional to the ambient vapor pressure, and was well described by the ratio of wind speed to vapor pressure. This ratio remained relatively constant between the two water years, so the differences in evaporative water loss between years were largely associated with differences in lake surface conditions (e.g. water temperature, ice cover, and ice duration). Since late-season water temperature decline is driven by evaporative and sensible heat loss, the potential for a negative feedback mechanism between evaporation and ice cover is discussed.

  • https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0380133011002012