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PaleolimnologyThe History and Evolution of Lake Systems$
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Andrew S. Cohen

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195133530

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195133530.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 28 October 2021

The Physical Environment of Lakes

The Physical Environment of Lakes

(p.56) 3 The Physical Environment of Lakes

Andrew S. Cohen

Oxford University Press

Before discussing paleolimnological archives, we need to consider those aspects of limnology that regulate how information is produced, transmitted, and filtered through the water column. Although many limnological processes leave behind sedimentary clues of their existence or intensity and are thus amenable to paleolimnological analysis, others leave little or no detectable trace. Our consideration of limnology here emphasizes the former. Throughout the next three chapters we will examine the properties of lakes, the implications of these properties for paleolimnology, and the types of physical, chemical, and biological information that can be transcribed into sedimentary archives. Physical processes in lakes are of interest because they act as intermediary hydroclimate filters between external forcing events of interest, like climate, and the paleolimnological record. For example, understanding the hydrology of a lake is important because water inputs and outputs, which are often controlled by climate, determine lake levels, which in turn are recorded by ancient shoreline elevations, or indirectly by salinity indicators. Light and heat penetration regulate the distribution of organisms and the mixing of the water column, recorded by the distribution of various fossils, sediment types, and geochemical characteristics of sediments. Also, current and wave activity affect the transport of sedimentary particles and therefore the distribution of sediment types around a lake basin. Understanding these physical processes therefore provides us with a means of linking sedimentological, geochemical, and paleobiological records of lake deposits to the external environment. Water enters and exits lakes through a variety of paths that comprise part of the earth’s hydrological cycle. The lake components of this cycle include a series of inputs and outputs of water, which in combination with the morphometry of the lake basin, collectively determine the lake’s level. Inputs include precipitation, surface runoff from rivers, and groundwater discharge into the lake. Outflows include surface outflow, evaporation, evapotranspiration losses from emergent aquatic plants, groundwater recharge, and hydration reactions with underlying sediments. If water inputs and outputs for a lake are equal over a short time span, the lake surface elevation will remain constant. This is approximately the case in most lakes that are surficially open basins.

Keywords:   Air masses, Bioturbation, Calcium carbonate, Debris flows, Fetch, Gravity flow, Hydroclimate, Kelvin waves

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