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Response in the water level of Anvil Lake, Wisconsin, to changes in meteorological and climatic changes, Wisconsin

January 1, 2022

Anvil Lake, a relatively shallow seepage lake in northern Wisconsin, USA, has experienced dramatic changes in water level since elevation records began in 1938 in response to changes in meteorological and climatic conditions (Figure 1. Robertson et al., 2018). Anvil Lake’s water level record shows a pronounced 10–15-yr cycle, with recurring highs and lows with a typical swing of over 1 m. Although experiencing large cycles in water levels, the long-term average levels were relatively stable until about 1987, when water level dropped dramatically by an additional 1 m (in 2016). Water levels then rebounded dramatically, reaching near “normal” water levels in 2020. At its lowest level, the lake had a maximum depth of 8.2 m (mean depth of 4.7 m) and an area of 128 ha.
Like most long-term records, Anvil Lake’s water level record has been measured by several observers using various techniques. To verify the consistency of the various datums used throughout this period, historical photographs with the water’s edge identified were obtained, tied to NAVD 1988 using a Real Time Kinematic satellite global positioning system, and compared with the measured water levels (See Figure 1).
To determine the causes of the changes in water level, a complete water budget was estimated for Anvil Lake from 1980 to 2014. Water levels in Anvil Lake were simulated (Figure 1) using a hydrodynamic model (General Lake Model, GLM), with daily lake evaporation estimated by
GLM, monthly lake/groundwater exchange estimated with a groundwater model (MODFLOW), daily precipitation from the North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS), and stream inflow and outflow were set as zero because the lake has no inlets or outlet. Atmospheric fluxes (precipitation minus evaporation) primarily drove the lake-level fluctuations and trends, but sub-decadal fluctuations in net groundwater exchange (groundwater inflow minus lake seepage) either enhanced or reduced the lake level response to the atmospheric drivers.
The changes in water levels were shown to affect the extent of stratification and water quality in the lake (Robertson et al., 2018). During periods of lower precipitation and lower water levels, Anvil Lake was a polymictic lake, whereas during periods of higher precipitation and higher water levels the lake was a dimictic lake with stratification lasting throughout summer. During periods with higher water levels, the water quality in the lake was shown to improve slightly as a result of the nutrients being diluted in a larger volume of water. If precipitation increases in the future, as results from many General Circulation Models (GCMs) suggest (Robertson et al., 2016), and if that outweighs the effects of increased evaporation caused by increased air temperatures, water levels in Anvil Lake may be expected to fluctuate at a higher level. Higher water levels in Anvil Lake are expected to result in the lake becoming more strongly stratified and have slightly improved water quality (lower nutrient and algal concentrations and increased water clarity) (Robertson et al., 2018).

Publication Year 2022
Title Response in the water level of Anvil Lake, Wisconsin, to changes in meteorological and climatic changes, Wisconsin
Authors Dale M. Robertson
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype State or Local Government Series
Index ID 70230312
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Upper Midwest Water Science Center