At broad spatial scales, primary productivity in lakes is known to increase in concert with nutrients, and variables that may disrupt or modify the tight coupling of nutrients and algae are of increasing interest, particularly for those shifting with climate change. Storms may disrupt algae–nutrient relationships, but the expected effects differ between winter and summer seasons, particularly for seasonally ice‐covered lakes. In winter, storms can dramatically change the under‐ice light environment, creating light limitation that disrupts algae–nutrient relationships. Further, storms can bring both snow that blocks light and also wind that blows snow off of ice. In open water conditions, storms may promote turbulence and external nutrient loading. Here, we test the hypotheses that winter and summer storms differentially affect algae–nutrient relationships across 84 seasonally ice‐covered lakes included in the Ecology Under Lake Ice dataset. While nutrients explained most of the variation in chlorophyll across these lakes, we found that secondary drivers differed between seasons. Under‐ice chlorophyll was higher under a variety of precipitation and wind conditions that tend to promote snow‐free clear ice, highlighting the importance of light as a limiting factor for algal growth during winter. In summer, higher water temperatures and storms corresponded with higher chlorophyll. Our study suggests that examining ice‐covered lakes in a gradient from the perennial ice cover of the poles to the intermittent ice cover of lower latitudes would yield key information on the shifts in light and nutrient limitation that control algal biomass.
Millions of lakes worldwide are distributed at latitudes or elevations resulting in the formation of lake ice during winter. Lake ice affects the transfer of energy, heat, light, and material between lakes and their surroundings creating an environment dramatically different from open‐water conditions. While this fundamental restructuring leads to distinct gradients in ions, dissolved gases, and nutrients throughout the water column, surprisingly little is known about the resulting effects on ecosystem processes and food webs, highlighting the lack of a general limnological framework that characterizes the structure and function of lakes under a gradient of ice cover. Drawing from the literature and three novel case studies, we present the Lake Ice Continuum Concept (LICC) as a model for understanding how key aspects of the physical, chemical, and ecological structure and function of lakes vary along a continuum of winter climate conditions mediated by ice and snow cover. We examine key differences in energy, redox, and ecological community structure and describe how they vary in response to shifts in physical mixing dynamics and light availability for lakes with ice and snow cover, lakes with clear ice alone, and lakes lacking winter ice altogether. Global change is driving ice covered lakes toward not only warmer annual average temperatures but also reduced, intermittent or no ice cover. The LICC highlights the wide range of responses of lakes to ongoing climate‐driven changes in ice cover and serves as a reminder of the need to understand the role of winter in the annual aquatic cycle.more » « less
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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