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Methods for simulating evaporative water loss from Earth's large lakes have lagged behind advances in hydrodynamic modeling. Here we explore use of oceanographic models to simulate lake evaporation from a long-term water balance perspective. More specifically, we compare long-term monthly simulations of latent heat flux from two configurations of a current operational hydrodynamic forecasting system (based on the Finite Volume Community Ocean Model, or FVCOM) for the Laurentian Great Lakes. We then compare these simulations to comparable simulations from a legacy conventional lake thermodynamics model, and from a recently developed statistical water balance model. We find that one of the FVCOM configurations that is currently used in operations for short-term hydrodynamic forecast guidance is also suitable for real-time simulation of evaporation from very large lakes. The operational versions of FVCOM should therefore be considered a readily available tool for supporting regional water supply management and, pending further research, extended water supply forecasting.
Gronewold, A. D., Anderson, E. J., & Smith, J. (2019). Evaluating Operational Hydrodynamic Models for Real-time Simulation of Evaporation From Large Lakes. Geophysical Research Letters, 46(6), 3263–3269. https://doi.org/10.1029/2019GL082289