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Title: Differential Responses of Maximum Versus Median Chlorophyll‐ a to Air Temperature and Nutrient Loads in an Oligotrophic Lake Over 31 Years

Globally, phytoplankton abundance is increasing in lakes as a result of climate change and land‐use change. The relative importance of climate and land‐use drivers has been examined primarily for mesotrophic and eutrophic lakes. However, oligotrophic lakes show different sensitivity to climate and land‐use drivers than mesotrophic and eutrophic lakes, necessitating further exploration of the relative contribution of the two drivers of change to increased phytoplankton abundance. Here, we investigated how air temperature (a driver related to climate change) and nutrient load (a driver related to land‐use and climate change) interact to alter water quality in oligotrophic Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire, USA. We used long‐term data and the one‐dimensional hydrodynamic General Lake Model (GLM) coupled with Aquatic EcoDyanmics (AED) modules to simulate water quality. Over the 31‐year simulation, summer median chlorophyll‐aconcentration was positively associated with summer air temperature, whereas annual maximum chlorophyll‐aconcentration was positively associated with the previous 3 years of external phosphorus load. Scenario testing demonstrated a 2°C increase in air temperature significantly increased summer median chlorophyll‐aconcentration, but not annual maximum chlorophyll‐aconcentration. For both maximum and median chlorophyll‐aconcentration, doubling external nutrient loads of total nitrogen and total phosphorus at the same time, or doubling phosphorus alone, resulted in a significant increase. This study highlights the importance of aligning lake measurements with the ecosystem metrics of interest, as maximum chlorophyll‐aconcentration may be more uniquely sensitive to nutrient load and that typical summer chlorophyll‐aconcentration may increase due to warming alone.

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Award ID(s):
1517823 1753639 1737424
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Water Resources Research
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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