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Title: Effects of climate change and episodic heat events on cyanobacteria in a eutrophic polymictic lake.
Changes in mixing regimes and CO2 availability may promote harmful cyanobacterial blooms in polymictic lakes and ponds globally, but the underlying mechanisms still remain unclear. We integrated results from a natural experiment comprising an average-wet year (2011) and one with heat waves (2012), a long-term meteorological dataset (1960–2010), historical phosphorus concentrations and corresponding sedimentary pigment records, to determine, on different temporal scales, the mechanistic controls of cyanobacterial blooms in a eutrophic polymictic lake. Intense warming in 2012 was associated with: 1) increased stability of the water column with buoyancy frequencies exceeding 40 cph at the surface, 2) high phytoplankton biomass in spring (up to 125 mg WW L-1), 3) reduced downward transport of heat and 4) persistently depleted epilimnetic CO2 concentrations. CO2 depletion was effectively maintained by intense uptake by phytoplankton (influx up to 30 mmol m-2 d-1) in combination with reduced carbon inputs from the watershed during dry periods. Under eutrophic conditions these effects triggered massive bloom of buoyant cyanobacteria (up to 300 mg WW L-1). Complementary evidence from polynomial regression modelling using long-term datasets revealed that warming is the most important predictor of cyanobacterial abundance during the second half of the last century explaining 78% of the observed positive trend, whereas phosphorus concentration explained only 10% thereof. Together the results from the interannual comparison and the multi-decadal record indicate that hotter and drier climates increase water column stratification and decrease CO2 availability in eutrophic polymictic lakes. This combination catalyzes blooms of buoyant cyanobacteria.  more » « less
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Science of the total environment
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National Science Foundation
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