FCE LTER Journal Articles


Effects of climate variability on transparency and thermal structure in subtropical, monomictic Lake Annie, Florida


Lake Annie is a small (37 ha), relatively deep (21 m) sinkhole lake on the Lake Wales Ridge (LWR) of central Florida with a long history of study, including monthly limnological monitoring since June, 1983. The record shows high variability in Secchi disc transparency, which ranged from < 1 to 15 m with a trend toward decreasing values over the latter decade of record. We examined available regional meteorological, groundwater and limnological data to determine the drivers and thermal consequences of variability in water transparency. While total nutrient concentrations and chlorophyll-a were highest during years of low transparency, stepwise regression showed that none of these had a signifi cant effect on transparency after water color was taken into account. Repeated years of high precipitation between 1993–2005 caused an increase in water table height, increasing the transport of dissolved substances from the vegetated watershed into the lake. Groundwater stage explained 73 % of the interannual variability in water transparency. Transparency, in turn, explained 85 % of the interannual variability in the heat budget for the lake, which ranged from 1.8 × 108 to 4.1 × 108 Joules m–2 yr–1, encompassing the range reported across Florida lakes. While surface water temperature was not affected by transparency, depths below 5 m warmed faster during the stratifi ed period during years having a lower rate of light extinction. We show that an increase in precipitation of 20 cm per year reduces the depth of the summer euphotic zone and thermocline by 1.9 and 1.6 m, respectively, and causes a 1-month reduction in the duration of winter mixing in this monomictic lake. Because biota have been shown to respond to shifts in light and heat distribution of much smaller magnitude than exhibited here, our work suggests that subtle changes in precipitation linked to climate fl uctuations may have signifi cant physical as well as biotic consequences.


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation through the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program under Cooperative Agreements #DBI-0620409 and #DEB-9910514. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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