Climatic Change

, Volume 124, Issue 1–2, pp 285–299 | Cite as

Climate change drives coherent trends in physics and oxygen content in North American lakes

  • Michelle E. Palmer
  • Norman D. Yan
  • Keith M. Somers


Using a 25-year record of monitoring data, we show that recent climate change has affected the thermal properties and oxygen content of seven lakes in south-central Ontario, Canada, and five lakes in north-central Wisconsin, USA. Coherent patterns in autumnal lake warming were driven by increased autumn air temperature in both lake districts. Temperature increases were restricted to the epilimnion and metalimnion of the lakes, resulting in increased thermal stability of the water column. Mixing depths also decreased over the study period. Shallower mixing depths in the Ontario lakes were due to climate-driven increases in lake-water dissolved organic carbon concentrations. Collectively, changes in the thermal regime of the lakes suggest autumn mixing of the water column may be delayed. Metalimnetic oxygen also increased in the Wisconsin lakes, perhaps in response to increased algal production as lake thermal regimes changed. The response of individual lakes to climate change was modified by lake chemistry in the Ontario lake district and by lake chemistry and morphometry in the Wisconsin lake district. Our results demonstrate coherent lake response to climate change and highlight the importance of both regional and local factors in regulating individual lake response to global climate change.


Lake Level Study Lake Lake District Regional Driver Lake Response 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank staff at the DESC and the Trout Lake Station of the Center for Limnology (University of Wisconsin–Madison and the North Temperate Lakes Long-Term Ecological Research program) for lake sampling and data management. James Rusak (DESC) and researchers at the Center for Limnology are gratefully acknowledged for providing data access and for helpful discussions about the Wisconsin lakes. Three anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments that improved the manuscript. Travel was funded by a grant to M.E.P. from the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and the Oakville and District Rod and Gun Club. Funding for this work was provided by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and Ontario Graduate Scholarships awarded to M.E.P.

Supplementary material

10584_2014_1085_MOESM1_ESM.docx (36 kb)
Online Resource (DOCX 35 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michelle E. Palmer
    • 1
    • 3
  • Norman D. Yan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Keith M. Somers
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyYork UniversityTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Dorset Environmental Science CentreDorsetCanada
  3. 3.Environmental Monitoring and Reporting BranchOntario Ministry of the EnvironmentTorontoCanada

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