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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Winter inverse lake stratification under historic and future climate change

Woolway, R. Iestyn; Denfeld, Blaize; Tan, Zeli; Jansen, Joachim; Weyhenmeyer, Gesa A.; La Fuente, Sofia;


Millions of lakes inversely stratify during winter. Seemingly subtle variations in the duration of winter stratification can have major ecological effects by, for example, altering the vertical distribution of oxygen and nutrients in lakes. Yet, the influence of climate change on winter stratification has been largely unexplored. To fill this knowledge gap, here we used a lake-climate model ensemble to investigate changes in winter stratification from 1901 to 2099 across 12,242 representative lakes situated throughout the Northern Hemisphere. By the end of the 21st century, winter stratification duration is projected to shorten by an average of 18.5-53.9 d under Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) 2.6-8.5. Projected changes are faster in warmer geographical regions, in which 35-69% of lakes will no longer inversely stratify by 2070-2099 under RCPs 2.6-8.5. This shortening and loss of winter stratification will likely have numerous implications for lakes, including the misalignment of lifecycle events causing shifts in biodiversity.

Published in

Limnology and Oceanography Letters

2022, volume: 7, number: 4, pages: 302-311
Publisher: WILEY

Authors' information

Woolway, R. Iestyn
University of Reading
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Ecology and Management
Tan, Zeli
United States Department of Energy (DOE)
Jansen, Joachim
Uppsala University
Weyhenmeyer, Gesa A.
Uppsala University
La Fuente, Sofia
Dundalk Institute of Technology

UKÄ Subject classification

Climate Research
Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources

Publication Identifiers


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