Jump to Main Content
Evaporation from Lake Superior: 2 Spatial distribution and variability
- Spence, C., Blanken, P.D., Hedstrom, N., Fortin, V., Wilson, H.
- Journal of Great Lakes research 2011 v.37 no.4 pp. 717-724
- air, climate models, evaporation, ice, lakes, water balance, Lake Superior
- Evaporation is a critical component of the water balance of each of the Laurentian Great Lakes, and it is expected that because of their shear size, evaporation cannot be spatially or temporally uniform. Despite this, examples of spatially distributed estimates of evaporation in the scientific literature are rare for most of the lakes and non-existent for Lake Superior. Direct measurements of evaporation taken at an offshore site on Lake Superior from June 2008 to October 2010 were used with concurrent satellite and climate model data to extrapolate evaporation measurements across the entire lake. Evaporation rates, large scale forcing mechanisms, and spatial patterns and variability are presented. Spatial patterns of evaporation tend to follow synoptic-scale air masses traveling over the lake. While most evaporation occurs during relatively short term events, these episodes tend not to occur in isolated locations on the lake, but are spatially widespread. The exceptions to this rule are during periods of a stable atmosphere and low evaporation, and when a transient ice cover can limit evaporation from some areas.