Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Peter D. Blanken

Second Advisor

Barbara P. Buttenfield

Third Advisor

Konrad Steffen

Fourth Advisor

Waleed Abdalati

Fifth Advisor

Harihar Rajaram


The purpose of this thesis was to investigate the physical processes of energy exchange between the water surface and atmosphere of Lake Huron in order to explain the processes behind such changes in long-term water levels and to monitor their spatial and temporal fluctuations. The lake surface water temperature and the four components of surface energy balance, including net radiation, latent heat, sensible heat, and heat storage, as well as evaporation rate, were estimated using the daily remotely sensed data from eleven years (2002-2012) with a multi-spatial resolution of 1 km to 5 km using the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board Terra satellite, together with in-situ measurements.

The regression analysis of the entire lake daily mean water surface temperature revealed a positive trend of 0.1 °C per year, indicating that the lake surface temperature increased by 1.1°C during the period 2002-2012. The warming rate was found to be greatest in the deepest areas of the lake, with a statistically-significant correlation between warming rate and depth. The four components of surface energy balance showed temporal and spatial heterogeneities. There were strong seasonal patterns for all of the components, which were very high in summer and low in winter for net radiation and heat storage. In contrast, the latent heat and sensible heat were very high in the winter and very low in the summer.

Approximately 70% of the annual mean 30 min evaporation occurred during the fall and winter seasons, whereas the lowest evaporation rate occurred in March, which was only 3% of the annual mean of 30 min evaporation. There was an increase in the evaporation rate of approximately 1.4 mm m-2 over the 2005-2012 observation period, the water level decreased by 0.04 m during the period 2002-2012, and there was a decrease in total water storage by 1.18 cm during the entire study period (2004-2012). There was obviously a negative correlation between lake evaporation and lake water level and also total lake water storage. If the current evaporation trend continues, it can be assumed that the negative water level and total water storage trend will also continue.