Uncertainty and Variability of Wisconsin Lakes in Response to Climate Change

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3/1/2011 - 2/28/2013

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  • Chin Wu, UW-Madison

Lakes are sensitive to climate variability. Increasing attention to lake responses to climate change has been paid because of the awareness of alterations in lakes through observations, from declining water level, warmer water temperature, and reduced ice cover. The overarching theme of the proposed project is to predict how lake physical variables (water levels, water temperature, ice cover) would response to the projected climate change through detailed hydrological and hydrodynamic studies including modeling and observations. Specific objectives of the proposed project are to (i) elucidate the mechanisms and relative roles of climatic variables (e.g., air temperature, precipitation, and wind speed), surrounding terrestrial effects (i.e., land-lake heat exchange), and hydrological variables (i.e., evaporation and groundwater flows) on affecting lake variables; (ii) investigate whether and how regime shift of lake variables will occur in the future climate; and (iii) develop a 3D lake ice/snow/hydrodynamic model that can model spatial variation in ice/snow cover. The benefit of the proposed project is to address the uncertainty and variability of lake physical variables response to climate change; quantify the relative roles of evaporation, groundwater, and surrounding terrestrial system in affecting lake water level and temperature responses to climate change; and Identify/obtain any regime shift of lake variables in seven Wisconsin lakes, if any, from current to future climate scenarios lakes.

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