Wind-driven mixing in the epilimnion of a deep lake can be suppressed when there is a weak near surface stratification, which occurs frequently during periods of strong solar heating and weak winds. Using data from a vertical chain of fast response thermistors, we analyze the frequency of near surface stratification in the top 2 meters of the epilimnion in Lake Opeongo, Ontario for the periods between May and August in 2009 and 2010. Near surface thermoclines (as defined by dT/dz > 0.2 °C m−1 between 1 and 2 m) occur for 24% of the sampling period in 2009, 37% of the sampling period in 2010 and correspond to periods of high values of gradient Richardson number. During daytime the epilimnion is stratified up to 45% of the time. At night, cooling generally leads to a more isothermal profile, but near surface thermoclines still form at least 20% of the time. Extended periods of near surface stratification (>1 h), account for more than 80% of the stratified period. We compare these findings with previous observations from the Experimental Lakes Area in Northern Ontario, and discuss the biological implications of episodic stratification.

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