Physical Circulation and Spatial Exchange Dynamics in a Shallow Floodplain Wetland

Physical Circulation and Spatial Exchange Dynamics in a Shallow Floodplain Wetland

Z. Sharip M.R. Hipsey S.S. Schooler R.J. Hobbs

Centre for Ecohydrology, School of Environmental Systems Engineering, University of Western Australia, Australia.

School of Plant Biology, University of Western Australia, Australia.

National Hydraulic Research Institute of Malaysia, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Malaysia.

School of Earth and Environment, University of Western Australia, Australia.

Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserves, University of Wisconsin-Superior, USA.

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This paper examines the spatial patterns of water exchange based on water temperature variation between littoral and pelagic zones and compares the patterns in a series of shallow lakes at different water levels. Exchange patterns were assessed by developing isotherms along the transects and estimating the surface energy budget using the vertical temperature profile and time-series measurements. Our results indicate the presence of density-driven flow induced by the differential temperature gradient between littoral areas, which are dominated by either floating-leaved or submerged vegetation, and the open pelagic region. Persistent stratification was noted in the narrower lakes, which was thought to be due to the presence of dense submerged vegetation that attenuate wind-driven turbulence. In addition, variation of thermal stratification and mixing dynamics between these lakes at different water levels has corresponding effects on the biological and chemical regimes. The circulation contributes to increased transport of the phosphate that could favour submerged species and subsequently induce shifts of macrophyte community composition. The results of this study have implications for the rehabilitation and management of lake ecosystems.


convective circulation, density driven flow, floating-leaved plant, Lake Chini, shallow wetland, submerged macrophytes, thermal stratification, water exchange


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