Summer thermal structure and anticyclonic circulation of Lake Erie


  • This article was corrected on 3 SEP 2014. See the end of the full text for details.


[1] In most thermally stratified lakes, the summer thermocline has the shape of a “dome”, with a shallower depth offshore than nearshore. This configuration is accompanied by a lake-wide cyclonic circulation. Lake-wide observations of subsurface temperature in central Lake Erie revealed an atypical “depressed” or “bowl-shaped” thermocline in late summer, with a deeper thermocline in the middle of the lake and a shallower thermocline nearshore. Currents measured in the central basin when the bowl-shaped thermocline was observed were anticyclonic, forming a single basin-wide gyre. It is suggested that the unusual bowl-shaped thermocline is the result of Ekman pumping driven by anticyclonic vorticity in surface winds. The bowl-shaped thermocline can lead to greater hypoxia in bottom waters and negative effects on biota by reducing the hypolimnetic volume.