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Horizontal and temporal variability of transport processes in lakes Forrest, Alexander LeBaron


This work examines the three dimensional nature of three important physical transport processes in lakes: (1) convection generated from a negative surface buoyancy flux; (2) transport resulting from rotational adjustment; and, (3) underflow fate during episodic wind stirring. Vertical and horizontal temperature gradients were characterized using a combination of traditional (moorings and vertical profilers) and novel techniques (an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) at two sites; Pavilion Lake, British Columbia, Canada and Lake Thingvallavatn, Iceland. The former site is a relatively small (5 km²), temperate lake, with comparatively low snow cover that allows solar radiation to be the dominant energy flux to the system during late winter months. Analysis of water temperature distribution in surface waters during summer and winter enabled convective patterns resulting from a negative surface buoyancy flux to be inferred. In addition to previously studied physical transport phenomena, this work has revealed the existence of a cyclonic eddy under winter ice cover in Pavilion Lake, consistent with the internal Rossby radius of deformation, extending down to ~ 14 m below the ice surface and rotating with an azimuthal speed of ~ 3 cm s⁻¹ (as predicted by equations of cyclogeostrophic flow). Horizontal temperature transects beneath the eddy revealed temperature fluctuations associated with 1 – 2 m vertical displacements in the region 5 m directly below the eddy and are thought to be an undocumented source of mass transport. The latter field site was an embayment of a larger (88 km²) subarctic lake with a groundwater inflow that propagates through the embayment as a negatively buoyant underflow. Surface wind shear events entrain the underflow into the overlying lake water. This entrainment alters the characteristics and the ultimate fate of the underflow in the lake. Calculated entrainment of the underflow and entrainment calculated from the bulk Richardson number are in close agreement. Measurements made during these studies not only elucidated details of the three dimensional nature of known transport mechanisms but also revealed previously undiscovered modes of mass transport associated with wintertime lake hydrodynamics.

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Attribution 3.0 Unported