Internal loading of phosphorus in western Lake Erie

Journal of Great Lakes Research
By: , and 

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Abstract

This study applied eight techniques to obtain estimates of the diffusive flux of phosphorus (P) from bottom sediments throughout the western basin of Lake Erie. The flux was quantified from both aerobic and anaerobic incubations of whole cores; by monitoring the water encapsulated in bottom chambers; from pore water concentration profiles measured with a phosphate microelectrode, a diffusive equilibrium in thin films (DET) hydrogel, and expressed pore waters; and from mass balance and biogeochemical diagenetic models. Fluxes under aerobic conditions at summertime temperatures averaged 1.35 mg P/m2/day and displayed spatial variability on scales as small as a centimeter. Using two different temperature correction factors, the flux was adjusted to mean annual temperature yielding average annual fluxes of 0.43–0.91 mg P/m2/day and a western basin-wide total of 378–808 Mg P/year as the diffusive flux from sediments. This is 3–7% of the 11,000 Mg P/year International Joint Commission (IJC) target load for phosphorus delivery to Lake Erie from external sources. Using these average aerobic fluxes, the sediment contributes 3.0–6.3 μg P/L as a background internal contribution that represents 20–42% of the IJC Target Concentration of 15 μg P/L for the western basin. The implication is that this internal diffusive recycling of P is unlikely to trigger cyanobacterial blooms by itself but is sufficiently large to cause blooms when combined with external loads. This background flux may be also responsible for delayed response of the lake to any decrease in the external loading.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Internal loading of phosphorus in western Lake Erie
Series title Journal of Great Lakes Research
DOI 10.1016/j.jglr.2016.04.004
Volume 42
Issue 4
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher International Association for Great Lakes Research
Contributing office(s) Great Lakes Science Center
Description 14 p.
First page 775
Last page 788
Country United States
Other Geospatial Lake Erie
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N