Seasonal epilimnetic temperature patterns and trends in a suite of lakes from Wisconsin (USA), Germany, and Finland
Epilimnetic temperatures from early 1980s through 2017 were analyzed for 12 Wisconsin (USA), German, and Finnish lakes. Seasonal temperature metrics exhibited large interannual variability with trends differing among regions. In the Wisconsin lakes, only late summer and fall temperatures increased significantly. In the 2 northeastern German lakes, temperatures increased in all seasons (not all significantly). The 3 Finnish lakes exhibited large spring temperature increases influenced by earlier ice-out; summer and fall temperatures also increased except for Konnevesi (central Finland) in early summer and polar Kevojärvi in midsummer. Kevojärvi also exhibited no increase in maximum recorded temperatures. Earlier records from 4 lakes were analyzed to elucidate longer-term epilimnetic temperature patterns. For Lake Mendota (southern Wisconsin), spring and late fall temperatures have increased modestly but significantly since 1894; summer temperatures have also increased modestly because of higher frequency of warm temperatures in recent summers and not from new record high temperatures. Trout Lake (northern Wisconsin) exhibited warm temperatures in some summers during the 1930s–1940s, similar to warm temperatures in some recent summers. Air–water temperature relationships coupled with long-term regional air temperature data also indicated summer epilimnetic temperatures in the study lakes were likely as warm in the 1930s–1940s as in recent years. Lake data confirmed cooler epilimnetic temperatures occurred in many summers during the 1950s–1980s coincident with cooler air temperatures. Because epilimnetic temperatures have not increased monotonically since 1900, our study supports continued temperature monitoring in lakes with extensive historical data to better understand and predict future effects of climate change on lake ecosystems.