Water temperature and air temperature both affect one another, although the bigger impact is from water to air. Water typically affects the air temperature by keeping it cooler, but if warmer air temperatures are sustained for a long enough period of time, it can cause warmer water temperatures as well.
Air temperature is the most important factor in water temperature, but it is a complicated process with many different factors. Usually, water temperature is “behind” air temperature; i.e., a lake will be warmer than the air in fall and cooler than the air in spring.
This is due largely to stratification. Cooler water becomes more dense. For example, in the fall, the chilly fall air will cool the top layer of the water to a lower temperature… But that makes the water more dense, so it sinks to the bottom. The water closer to the surface is then warmer than the air temperature, and this process repeats. The effect is a graduating layer of water with different temperatures, densities, and oxygenation, called stratification.
However, eventually, the process makes the lake (in this example) all the same temperature. At this point, the colder water becomes less dense and rises to the top. The cold winter air will freeze the top, but the water underneath will remain stable, since it is uneffected by the wind. (This is winter stratification.)
Then, in spring, when the ice melts, the surface water is warmer and denser and sinks to the bottom, which is why water feels colder than the air in spring.
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