CR 34:15-23 (2007)  -  doi:10.3354/cr034015

Decadal changes in water temperature and ecological time series in Lake Geneva, Europe—relationship to subtropical Atlantic climate variability

Juan Carlos Molinero1,*, Orlane Anneville1, Sami Souissi2, Leslie Lainé1, Daniel Gerdeaux1

1Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA)-Station d’Hydrobiologie Lacustre, BP 511, 75 Avenue de Corzent, 74203 Thonon les Bains Cédex, France
2Université des Sciences et Technologies de Lille 1, CNRS-FRE 8, Ecosystèmes Littoraux Côtiers (ELICO), Station Marine, 28 Avenue Foch, 62930 Wimereux, France

ABSTRACT: We investigated connections between subtropical Atlantic climate variability, atmospheric conditions in the European Alpine region (45 to 47°N and 5 to 8°E) and the interannual variability of the thermal conditions in the largest body of freshwater in Western Europe (Lake Geneva). The long-term water temperature was related to climate variability by means of a multivariate regression model. Results revealed atmospheric connections that have been elusive so far, and showed that over the period from 1959 to 2000, summer thermal conditions in Lake Geneva appear tightly linked to the long-term variability of the subtropical Atlantic climate. The multivariate model revealed high skills and tight correlations, which suggest the possibility of assessing future thermal changes in Lake Geneva from the Atlantic climate variability. The implications of such climatic forcing on the functioning of the pelagic ecosystem in Lake Geneva were illustrated by analysing the long-term changes in abundance of the summer-dominant carnivorous cladocerans Bythotrephes longimanus and Leptodora kindtii during the period 1974 to 2000. Again, the multivariate model revealed high skills and excellent correlations between the interannual changes in abundance of these species and the variability of summer climate. Our approach provides a general understanding of the interrelations between large- and regional-scale climates, local environmental conditions and the ecological responses in Lake Geneva during summer, and is therefore applicable to other retrospective studies.

KEY WORDS: Subtropical Atlantic climate · Western Europe lakes · Temperature · Zooplankton · Leptodora kindtii · Bythotrephes longimanus

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