The Changing Face of Winter: Lessons and Questions From the Laurentian Great Lakes

Tedy Ozersky, Andrew J Bramburger, Ashley K. Elgin, Henry A. Vanderploeg, Jia Wang, Jay A. Austin, Hunter J. Carrick, Louise Chavarie, David C. Depew, Aaron T. Fisk, Stephanie E. Hampton, Elizabeth K. Hinchey, Rebecca L. North, Mathew G. Wells, Marguerite A. Xenopoulos, Maureen L. Coleman, Melissa B. Duhaime, Ayumi Fujisaki-Manome, R. Michael McKay, Guy A. MeadowsMark D. Rowe, Sapna Sharma, Michael R. Twiss, Arthur Zastepa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Among its many impacts, climate warming is leading to increasing winter air temperatures, decreasing ice cover extent, and changing winter precipitation patterns over the Laurentian Great Lakes and their watershed. Understanding and predicting the consequences of these changes is impeded by a shortage of winter-period studies on most aspects of Great Lake limnology. In this review, we summarize what is known about the Great Lakes during their 3–6 months of winter and identify key open questions about the physics, chemistry, and biology of the Laurentian Great Lakes and other large, seasonally frozen lakes. Existing studies show that winter conditions have important effects on physical, biogeochemical, and biological processes, not only during winter but in subsequent seasons as well. Ice cover, the extent of which fluctuates dramatically among years and the five lakes, emerges as a key variable that controls many aspects of the functioning of the Great Lakes ecosystem. Studies on the properties and formation of Great Lakes ice, its effect on vertical and horizontal mixing, light conditions, and biota, along with winter measurements of fundamental state and rate parameters in the lakes and their watersheds are needed to close the winter knowledge gap. Overcoming the formidable logistical challenges of winter research on these large and dynamic ecosystems may require investment in new, specialized research infrastructure. Perhaps more importantly, it will demand broader recognition of the value of such work and collaboration between physicists, geochemists, and biologists working on the world's seasonally freezing lakes and seas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2021JG006247
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Volume126
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This manuscript is the outcome of the summit (May 13–15, 2019, Ann Arbor, MI). Funding for the summit was provided by the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research (CIGLR), through NOAA Cooperative Agreement NA17OAR4320152 with the University of Michigan. Lake Superior thermal data (Figure 3 ) were collected with support from NSF‐OCE 0825633. The authors are grateful to Mary Ogdahl and Aubrey Lashaway of CIGLR for help with summit logistics. The authors also thank Alexander Forrest and Marianne Moore for thoughtful suggestions on the text and James Kessler and Songzhi Liu for help with figures and data analysis. Comments by the associate editor and two anonymous reviewers significantly improved this manuscript. Winter Limnology on the Great Lakes: Prospects and Research Needs

Funding Information:
This manuscript is the outcome of the summit Winter Limnology on the Great Lakes: Prospects and Research Needs (May 13?15, 2019, Ann Arbor, MI). Funding for the summit was provided by the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research (CIGLR), through NOAA Cooperative Agreement NA17OAR4320152 with the University of Michigan. Lake Superior thermal data (Figure?3) were collected with support from NSF-OCE 0825633. The authors are grateful to Mary Ogdahl and Aubrey Lashaway of CIGLR for help with summit logistics. The authors also thank Alexander Forrest and Marianne Moore for thoughtful suggestions on the text and James Kessler and Songzhi Liu for help with figures and data analysis. Comments by the associate editor and two anonymous reviewers significantly improved this manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021. The Authors.

Keywords

  • climate change
  • Laurentian Great Lakes
  • seasonality
  • winter limnology

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