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Ice-covered lakes of Tibetan Plateau as solar heat collectors
  • Georgiy B Kirillin,
  • Lijuan Wen,
  • Tom Shatwell
Georgiy B Kirillin
Leibniz-Institute for Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Lijuan Wen
Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences
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Tom Shatwell
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research
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The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau possesses the largest alpine lake system, which plays a crucial role in the land-atmosphere interaction. We report first observations on the thermal and radiation regime under ice of the largest freshwater lake of the Plateau. The results reveal that freshwater lakes on the Tibetan Plateau fully mix under ice. Due to strong solar heating, water temperatures increase above the maximum density value 1-2 months before the ice break, forming stable thermal stratification with subsurface temperatures $>6$ \celsius. The resulting heat flow from water to ice makes a crucial contribution to ice cover melt. After the ice breakup, the accumulated heat is released into the atmosphere during 1-2 days, increasing lake-atmosphere heat fluxes up to 500 W m$^{-2}$. The direct biogeochemical consequences of the deep convective mixing are aeration of the deep lake waters and upward supply of nutrients to the upper photic layer.