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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Challenges of predicting gas transfer velocity from wind measurements over global lakes

Klaus, Marcus; Vachon, Dominic


Estimating air-water gas transfer velocities (k) is integral to understand biogeochemical and ecological processes in aquatic systems. In lakes, k is commonly predicted using wind-based empirical models, however, their predictive performance under conditions that differ from their original calibration remains largely unassessed. Here, we collected 2222 published k estimates derived from various methods in 46 globally distributed lakes to (1) evaluate the predictions of a selection of six available wind-speed based k models for lakes and (2) explore and develop new empirical models to predict k over global lakes. We found that selected k models generally performed poorly in predicting k in lakes. Model predictions were more accurate than simply assuming a mean k in only 2-39% of all lakes, however, we could not identify with confidence the specific conditions in which some models outperformed others. We developed new wind-based models in which additional variables describing the spatial coverage of k estimates and the lake size and shape had a significant effect on the wind speed-k relationship. Although these new models did not fit the global dataset significantly better than previous k models, they generate overall less biased predictions for global lakes. We further provide explicit estimates of prediction errors that integrate methodological and lake-specific uncertainties. Our results highlight the potential limits when using wind-based models to predict k across lakes and urge scientists to properly account for prediction errors, or measure k directly in the field whenever possible.


Air-water gas exchange; Model assessment; Lake gas flux; Wind speed; k(600); Reaeration

Published in

Aquatic Sciences - Research Across Boundaries
2020, volume: 82, number: 3, article number: 53

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Ecology and Management
Umeå University
Vachon, Dominic
Umea Univ

UKÄ Subject classification

Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources

Publication Identifiers


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