Modeling spatial and temporal variations in temperature and salinity during stratification and overturn in Dexter Pit Lake, Tuscarora, Nevada, USA

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This paper examines the seasonal cycling of temperature and salinity in Dexter pit lake in arid northern Nevada, and describes an approach for modeling the physical processes that operate in such systems. The pit lake contains about 596,200 m3 of dilute, near neutral (pHs 6.7-9) water. Profiles of temperature, conductivity, and selected element concentrations were measured almost monthly during 1999 and 2000. In winter (January-March), the pit lake was covered with ice and bottom water was warmer (5.3 °C) with higher total dissolved solids (0.298 g/L) than overlying water (3.96 °C and 0.241 g/L), suggesting inflow of warm (11.7 °C) groundwater with a higher conductivity than the lake (657 versus 126-383 μS/cm). Seasonal surface inflow due to spring snowmelt resulted in lower conductivity in the surface water (232-247 μS/cm) relative to deeper water (315-318 μS/cm). The pit lake was thermally stratified from late spring through early fall, and the water column turned over in late November (2000) or early December (1999). The pit lake is a mixture of inflowing surface water and groundwater that has subsequently been evapoconcentrated in the arid environment. Linear relationships between conductivity and major and some minor (B, Li, Sr, and U) ions indicate conservative mixing for these elements. Similar changes in the elevations of the pit lake surface and nearby groundwater wells during the year suggest that the pit lake is a flow-through system. This observation and geochemical information were used to configure an one-dimensional hydrodynamics model (Dynamic Reservoir Simulation Model or DYRESM) that predicts seasonal changes in temperature and salinity based on the interplay of physical processes, including heating and cooling (solar insolation, long and short wave radiation, latent, and sensible heat), hydrologic flow (inflow and outflow by surface and ground water, pumping, evaporation, and precipitation), and transfers of momentum (wind stirring, convective overturn, shear, and eddy diffusion). Inputs to the model include the size and shape of the lake, daily meteorological data (short wave radiation, long wave radiation or cloud cover, air temperature, vapor pressure, wind speed, and rainfall), rates for water inputs and outputs, the composition of inflowing water, and initial profiles of temperature and salinity. Predicted temperature profiles, which are influenced by seasonal changes in the magnitude of solar radiation, are in good agreement with observations and show the development of a strong thermocline in the summer, erosion of the thermocline during early fall, and turnover in late fall. Predicted salinity profiles are in reasonable agreement with observations and are affected by the hydrologic balance, particularly inflow of surface and groundwater and, to a lesser degree, evaporation. Defining the hydrodynamics model for Dexter pit lake is the first step in using a coupled physical - biogeochemical model (Dynamic Reservoir Simulation Model-Computational Aquatic Ecosystem Dynamics Model or DYRESM-CAEDYM) to predict the behavior of non-conservative elements (e.g., dissolved O2, Mn, and Fe) and their effect on water quality in this system. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.




Balistrieri, L. S., Tempel, R. N., Stillings, L. L., & Shevenell, L. A. (2006). Modeling spatial and temporal variations in temperature and salinity during stratification and overturn in Dexter Pit Lake, Tuscarora, Nevada, USA. Applied Geochemistry, 21(7), 1184–1203.

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