Extensive data for Lake Baikal have been synthesized into a geochemical mass balance for phosphorus (P). Some of the P budget and internal cycling terms for Baikal have been compared to similar terms for oligotrophic Lake Superior, mesotrophic Lake Michigan and the Baltic Sea, and the Ocean. Lake Baikal has a large external source of fluvial P compared to the Laurentian upper Great Lakes and the Ocean. The major tributary to Lake Baikal has experienced substantial increases in organic P loading during the past 25 years. This, coupled with potential P inputs from possible phosphorite mining, may threaten Baikal's oligotrophic status in the future. Water-column remineralization of particulate organic P is substantially greater in Lake Baikal than in the Laurentian Great Lakes. This is probably due to the great water depths of Lake Baikal. There is a gradient in P burial efficiency, with very high values (80%) for Lake Baikal and Lake Superior, lower values (50%) for Lake Michigan and the Baltic Sea, and a low value (13%) for the Ocean. The accumulation rate of P in Lake Baikal sediments is somewhat greater than that in the Laurentian upper Great Lakes and the Baltic Sea, and much greater than in the Ocean. Benthic regeneration rates are surprisingly similar for large lacustrine and marine environments and supply less than 10% of the P utilized for primary production in these aquatic environments.
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Biogeochemical phosphorus mass balance for Lake Baikal, southeastern Siberia, Russia