Cardoso-Mohedano, J.-G., Sanchez-Cabeza, J.-A., Ruiz-Fernández, A.-C., Pérez-Bernal, L.-H., Lima-Rego, J., & Giralt, S. (2019). Fast deep water warming of a subtropical crater lake. Science of The Total Environment, 691, 1353–1361.


Water temperature of deep lakes is often used to evaluate climate variability over long periods. Santa Maria del Oro Lake is a sub-tropical crater-lake (60 m maximum depth) almost confined by surrounding mountains, which only receives seasonal fresh water input. In order to evaluate lake thermal variations, we measured water temperatures at bottom, 4 m, 10 m, 25 m, and 32 m depth. To study lake vertical mixing process, we implemented a 3D high-resolution model forced with atmospheric variables. Field data analysis indicate an hypolimnetic warming rate of 0.1136 ± 0.0001 °C y−1, about ten times larger than the mean global warming rate, and model results indicated that this was mainly caused by thermal diffusion between surface and bottom water layers. The lake presents a stable temperature stratification, which can reach 40 m depth during the windiest and coolest nights, indicating that the lake is oligomictic (i.e. mixes only occasionally). Inter-annual climate variability and global warming can alter the frequency of full vertical water mixing and, therefore, deep water warming. The used methodology can be useful to evaluate bottom trend temperature of subtropical lakes worldwide, and results may contribute to the use of deep lake waters as sentinels of multi-annual climate variability. As deep water mixing affects water quality, this may also be useful to better manage lake environmental services.

Reference article

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