The use of sophisticated three-dimensional (3D) hydrodynamic models is often required to simulate the spatial and temporal variability of water quality in large lakes. Recently, coupled lake–atmosphere models have also been developed to resolve the spatial distribution of the thermal behavior in lakes and to assess the feedback mechanisms at the air–water interface. In the studies summarized in this paper, the 3D Estuary and Lake Computer Model (ELCOM) acts as the hydrodynamic driver that provides temperature, salinity, and the transport fields that, if coupled with the Computational Aquatic Ecosystem Dynamics Model (CAEDYM), simulates nutrients, phytoplankton, zooplankton, and benthic habitat. This study presents a summary of the performance of ELCOM, and in an indirect form, serves as well as a corroboration of the strength or weakness of the coupled modeling and its ability to reproduce the thermal structure and circulation patterns, with examples from the Laurentian Great Lakes (Erie and Ontario), Northern Great Lakes (Great Slave Lake and Great Bear Lake), and Lake Winnipeg in Central Canada.

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