Simulation of long-term thermal characteristics of three Estonian lakes

J. Vassiljev*, S. P. Harrison, S. Hostetler, P. J. Bartlein

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)


    A one-dimensional surface energy-balance lake model, coupled to a thermodynamic model of lake ice, is used to simulate variations in the temperature of and evaporation from three Estonian lakes: Karujärv, Viljandi and Kirjaku. The model is driven by daily climate data, derived by cubic-spline interpolation from monthly mean data, and was run for periods of 8 years (Kirjaku) up to 30 years (Viljandi). Simulated surface water temperature is in good agreement with observations: mean differences between simulated and observed temperatures are from -0.8°C to +0.1°C. The simulated duration of snow and ice cover is comparable with observed. However, the model generally underpredicts ice thickness and overpredicts snow depth. Sensitivity analyses suggest that the model results are robust across a wide range (0.1-2.0 m-1) of lake extinction coefficient: surface temperature differs by less than 0.5°C between extreme values of the extinction coefficient. The model results are more sensitive to snow and ice albedos. However, changing the snow (0.2-0.9) and ice (0.15-0.55) albedos within realistic ranges does not improve the simulations of snow depth and ice thickness. The underestimation of ice thickness is correlated with the overestimation of snow cover, since a thick snow layer insulates the ice and limits ice formation. The overestimation of snow cover results from the assumption that all the simulated winter precipitation occurs as snow, a direct consequence of using daily climate data derived by interpolation from mean monthly data.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)107-123
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Hydrology
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1994


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