Horizontal Circulation Patterns in a Large Shallow Lake: Taihu Lake, China

Sien Liu, Tsinghua Ye, Shiqiang Wu, Marcel Stive

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


Wind induced hydrodynamic circulations play significant roles in the transport and mixing process of pollutants and nutrients in large shallow lakes, but they have been usually overlooked, while environmental, biological, and ecological aspects of eutrophication problems get the most focus. Herein we use a three-dimensional model, driven by steady/unsteady wind, river discharge, rainfall, evaporation to investigate the spatially heterogeneous, large-scale hydrodynamic circulations and their role in transporting and mixing mechanisms in Taihu Lake. Wind direction and velocity determines the overall hydrodynamic circulation structure, i.e. direction, intensity, and position. A relative stable hydrodynamic circulation pattern has been formed shortly with steady wind (~2 days). Vertical profiles of horizontal velocities are linearly correlated to the relative shallowness of water depth. Volume exchange between subbasins, influenced by wind speed and initial water level, differs due to the complex topography and irregular shape. With unsteady wind, these findings are still valid to a high degree. Vertical variations in hydrodynamic circulation are important in explaining the surface accumulation of algae scums in Meiliang Bay in summers. Vorticity of velocity field, a key indicator of hydrodynamic circulation, is determined by wind direction, bathymetry gradient, and water depth. The maximum change of velocity vorticity happens when wind direction is perpendicular to bathymetry gradient. Furthermore, Lagrangian-based tracer transport is used to estimate emergency pollution leakage impacts, and also to evaluate operational management measurements, such as, the large-scale water transfer. The conclusion is that the large-scale water transfer does not affect the hydrodynamic circulation and volume exchanges between subbasins significantly, but succeeds to transport and then mix the fresh, clean Yangtze River water to a majority area of Taihu Lake.
Original languageEnglish
Article number792
Number of pages27
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • hydrodynamic circulation
  • large shallow lakes
  • vorticity of velocity
  • wind-induced current
  • Taihu Lake
  • OA-Fund TU Delft


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