In this paper, the effects of littoral submerged macrophytes on weak stratification conditions in a small and shallow lake are investigated. Diverse submerged macrophytes occupying a large portion of the littoral zone act as resistance to water motions and affect lake hydrodynamics. Strong solar radiation and mild wind forcing typically occurring during the summer season result in weak stratification characterized by a diurnal cycle with a temperature differential of 1–3 °C. Temperature and circulation dynamics of a small and shallow lake are depicted by extensive field measurements and a three-dimensional non-hydrostatic model with a generic length scale (GLS) approach for the turbulence closure and drag forces induced by macrophytes. Results show that the effects of macrophytes on velocity profiles are apparent. In the pelagic area, the circulation patterns with and without macrophytes are similar. The velocity profile is generally characterized by a two-layer structure with the maximum velocity at both the water surface and the mid-depth. In contrast, inside the littoral zone, the mean flow is retarded by macrophytes and the velocity profile is changed to only one maximum velocity at the surface with a steeper decrease until 2.0 m depth and another slight decrease to the lake bottom. From the whole lake perspective, littoral macrophytes dampen the horizontal water temperature difference between the upwind side and download side of the lake. Macrophytes promote a stronger temperature stratification by retarding mean flows and reducing vertical mixing. Overall, this study shows that the temperature structures and circulation patterns under weak stratification conditions in a small and shallow lake are strongly affected by littoral vegetation.
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