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Evaluation of the FLake Model in ERA5 for Lake Champlain

Global model reanalyses of temperature and radiation are used for many purposes because of their spatial and temporal homogeneity. However, they use sub-models for lakes that are smaller than the model grid. This paper compares the simplified small-lake model, known as FLake, used in the European Centre global reanalysis known as ERA5, with observations made in and near Lake Champlain in northern Vermont. Lake Champlain is a challenging test for the ERA5 FLake model. The lake, which extends over several grid cells, is the lowest region at 30m above sea level within complex mountain topography. The smoothing of the adjacent mountain topography means that the ERA5 grid cells containing the lake have higher mean elevations then 30m, and this contributes to a small cool bias in FLake mid-summer temperatures. The seasonal cycle of FLake temperatures has a sharper peak than the observed lake temperatures. In winter, lake temperatures are close to 3◦C, while the 30m deep FLake mixed layer (ML) is near freezing. In May and June, FLake maintains a deep ML, while lake profiles are generally strongly stratified with peak temperatures near the surface several degrees above the model ML. One possible contributing reason is that inflowing river temperatures that are not considered by FLake are as much as 5◦C above the lake surface temperature from April to June. The lake does develop aML structure as it cools from the temperature peak in August, but the FLake ML cools faster and grows deeper in fall. We conclude that the vertical mixing in the FLake ML is stronger than the vertical mixing in Lake Champlain.

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Betts AK, Reid D and Crossett C (2020) Evaluation of the FLake Model in ERA5 for Lake Champlain. Front. Environ. Sci. 8:609254. doi: 10.3389/fenvs.2020.609254 [Frontiers]