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Glossary » S

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The separation of lakes into three layers:

  1. Epilimnion - top of the lake.
  2. Thermocline - middle layer that may change depth throughout the day.
  3. Hypolimnion - the bottom layer is colder, denser and often lacks oxygen to support life and the breakdown of nutrients.

The thermal stratification of lakes refers to a change in the temperature at different depths in the lake, and is due to the change in water's density with temperature. Cold water is denser than warm water. Where lake water warms up and cools , a cyclical pattern of overturn occurs that is repeated from year to year as the densest water at the top of the lake sinks.


Attraction of molecules to each other on a liquid's surface creating a barrier is created between the air and the liquid.


Water that is on the Earth's surface, such as in a stream, river, lake, or reservoir.