The accurate simulation of lake-air exchanges can improve weather and climate predictions, quantify the lake water cycle and provide evidence for water demand management and decision making. This paper analyzes the thermal stratification and surface flux of eastern Lake Taihu and evaluates three common surface models: CLM4-LISSS, E-ε and LAKE. The results show that the thermal stratification and lake-air exchanges are greatly affected by the weather conditions and have obvious diurnal variations in the Lake Taihu. The eddy exchange coefficient (EEC) in the thermodynamic equation varies greatly with the weather conditions and the water depth too, and an accurate parameterization scheme is important for the temperature simulations. The lake surface temperature simulation results of the CLM4-LISSS model have the highest accuracy due to the more accurate EEC simulation, with a correlation coefficient (CC) of 0.94 and a root mean square error (RMSE) of 0.85 °C, and latent flux simulation with a CC of 0.78 and a RMSE of 55.32 W m−2
. Moreover, the submerged plants in shallow water have obvious influences on the radiation, thermal transferring and eddy motion. The E–ε model can accurately simulate the surface temperature with submerged plants consideration, though a better scheme to deal with surface flux and turbulence dissipation in the areas of submerged plants is still need to be developed. The physical process in the LAKE model is comprehensive, while when it is used to simulate Lake Taihu and other shallow lakes, the EEC is large and needs to be adjusted.
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