Direct and interactive effects of climate, meteorology, river hydrology, and lake characteristics on water quality in productive lakes of the Canadian Prairies

R. J. Vogt*, S. Sharma, P. R. Leavitt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)
155 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Aquatic ecosystems are subject to multiple interacting stressors that obscure regulatory mechanisms and reduce the effectiveness of management strategies. Here we estimate the unique and interactive effects of continental climate systems, regional meteorology, river hydrology, and internal lake characteristics on patterns of landscape-scale water quality in six productive lakes within a 52 000 km2 catchment. We quantify variation in mean summer and monthly algal abundance, surface bloom intensity, water clarity, and density of potentially toxic cyanobacteria during 16 years on the Canadian Prairies. Internal lake characteristics best predicted overall water quality change, while climate systems, regional weather, and river hydrology characterized indirect pathways that influenced physicochemical environments. Scenario analysis of future environmental change predicted that atmospheric warming (3-5 °C) will have the strongest effect on water quality in these productive lakes, but unexpectedly predicted that even severe industrial water extraction (1% of inflow) will have negligible effects on transparency or algal abundance. Instead, nutrient management represents the only practical means to sustain water quality, although atmospheric and lake warming may override re-oligotrophication of eutrophied sites in future decades.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-59
Number of pages13
JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Volume75
Issue number1
Early online date23 Feb 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science

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