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Direct Observations of Evaporation in the Upper Great Lakes

Chris Spence;Peter Blanken, Newell Hedstrom
Instruments were installed to measure the Lake Superior surface energy balance using the eddy covariance method at a remote, offshore lighthouse known as Stannard Rock. Measurements occurred at 0.5-hr intervals from Jun. 2008 – Sep. 2011. Pronounced seasonal patterns in the surface energy balance were observed, with a five-month delay between maximum summer net radiation and maximum winter latent and sensible heat fluxes. Winter evaporation and sensible heat losses typically occurred in two- to three-day events, and were associated with significant release of stored heat from the lake. Evaporation over a water year starting June 1 averaged 590 mm. Evaporation was proportional to horizontal wind speed, inversely proportional to ambient vapor pressure, and was well described by the ratio of wind speed to vapor pressure. Data were provided to NOAA and Environment Canada to improve operational hydrometeorological forecasts. A second installation followed on Lake Huron at Spectacle Reef.
Direct Observations of Evaporation in the Upper Great Lakes
Evaporation from Lake Superior: 1 Physical controls & processes
Evaporation from Lake Superior: 2 Spatial distribution & variability
Viewable Data:
Stannard Rock Daily Meteorological and Energy Flux Data
Direct Measurements of Surface Energy Balance on Superior
Evaporation from Lake Superior (Poster)
Evaporation from Lake Superior
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Main Topics
Hydroclimate Information
Questions We Asked
What are the historical NBS estimates & how have changes affected lake levels?
What impacts could climate variations have on regulation?
View all 3 questions we asked
What impacts could climate variations have on levels?
Key Findings
Increasing evaporation and precipitation are offsetting, except on Superior
Adaptive management requires improved data, science, collaboration & integration
Improve understanding of hydroclimatic processes & impacts
Understanding the Water Balance
Assessing Reliability of Historical Data
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Improved Data Collection and Monitoring