Ice cover, winter circulation, and exchange in Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron

TitleIce cover, winter circulation, and exchange in Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsNguyen, TD, Hawley, N, Phanikumar, MS
JournalLimnology and Oceanography
Start Page376-393

Winter circulation exerts a strong control on the release and timing of nutrients and contaminants from bays into the adjoining lakes. To estimate winter residence times of solutes in the presence of ice cover, we used an ice model coupled to hydrodynamic, thermal and solute transport models of Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron for two low (2010 and 2013) and two high (2009 and 2014) ice years. The models were tested using temperature data from thermistor chains and current data from ADCP moorings deployed during the winter- time. Simulated water temperatures compared favorably to lake-wide average surface temperatures derived from NOAA’s AVHRR satellite imagery. Simulated results of ice cover are in agreement with observed data from the Great Lakes Ice Atlas. Our results indicate that ice cover significantly dampens water movement producing almost stagnant conditions around February. Estimates of residence times for Saginaw Bay (defined as the e-folding flushing time based on vertically integrated dye concentrations) show that the mean resi- dence times in a low ice year (2013) are 2.2 months for the inner bay, and 3.5 months for the entire bay. The corresponding numbers for a high ice year (2014) are 4.9 and 5.3 months, respectively. Considering the entire bay, solutes stored in the bay can be expected to be released into the lake between March (low ice year) and April (high ice year). These results are expected to aid in understanding the behavior of contami- nants in the Great Lakes during the winter months and in early spring.