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  1. Abstract

    The concentration of dissolved oxygen (DO) is an important attribute of aquatic ecosystems, influencing habitat, drinking water quality, biodiversity, nutrient biogeochemistry, and greenhouse gas emissions. While average summer DO concentrations are declining in lakes across the temperate zone, much remains unknown about seasonal factors contributing to deepwater DO losses. It is unclear whether declines are related to increasing rates of seasonal DO depletion or changes in seasonal stratification that limit re‐oxygenation of deep waters. Furthermore, despite the presence of important biological and ecological DO thresholds, there has been no large‐scale assessment of changes in the amount of habitat crossing these thresholds, limiting the ability to understand the consequences of observed DO losses. We used a dataset from >400 widely distributed lakes to identify the drivers of DO losses and quantify the frequency and volume of lake water crossing biologically and ecologically important threshold concentrations ranging from 5 to 0.5 mg/L. Our results show that while there were no consistent changes over time in seasonal DO depletion rates, over three‐quarters of lakes exhibited an increase in the duration of stratification, providing more time for seasonal deepwater DO depletion to occur. As a result, most lakes have experienced summertime increases in the amount of water below all examined thresholds in deepwater DO concentration, with increases in the proportion of the water column below thresholds ranging between 0.9% and 1.7% per decade. In the 30‐day period preceding the end of stratification, increases were greater at >2.2% per decade and >70% of analyzed lakes experienced increases in the amount of oxygen‐depleted water. These results indicate ongoing climate‐induced increases in the duration of stratification have already contributed to reduction of habitat for many species, likely increased internal nutrient loading, and otherwise altered lake chemistry. Future warming is likely to exacerbate these trends.

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  2. Abstract

    Increases in the concentration of dissolved organic matter (DOM) have been documented in many inland waters in recent decades, a process known as “browning”. Previous studies have often used space‐for‐time substitution to examine the direct consequences of increased DOM on lake ecosystems. However, browning often occurs concomitant with other ecologically important water chemistry changes that may interact with or overwhelm any potential ecological response to browning itself. Here we examine a long‐term (~20 year) dataset of 28 lakes in the Adirondack Park, New York, USA, that have undergone strong browning in response to recovery from acidification. With these data, we explored how primary producer and zooplankton consumer populations changed during this time and what physical and chemical changes best predicted these long‐term ecosystem changes. Our results indicate that changes in primary producers are likely driven by reduced water clarity due to browning, independent of changes in nutrients, counter to previously hypothesized primary producer response to browning. In contrast, declines in calcium concomitant with browning play an important role in driving long‐term declines in zooplankton biomass. Our results indicate that responses to browning at different trophic levels are decoupled from one another. Concomitant chemical changes have important implications for our understanding of the response of aquatic ecosystems to browning.

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  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2024
  4. Abstract Microplastics (MPs) are an emerging class of pollutants in air, soil and especially in all aquatic environments. Secondary MPs are generated in the environment during fragmentation of especially photo-oxidised plastic litter. Photo-oxidation is mediated primarily by solar UV radiation. The implementation of the Montreal Protocol and its Amendments, which have resulted in controlling the tropospheric UV-B (280–315 nm) radiation load, is therefore pertinent to the fate of environmental plastic debris. Due to the Montreal Protocol high amounts of solar UV-B radiation at the Earth’s surface have been avoided, retarding the oxidative fragmentation of plastic debris, leading to a slower generation and accumulation of MPs in the environment. Quantifying the impact of the Montreal Protocol in reducing the abundance of MPs in the environment, however, is complicated as the role of potential mechanical fragmentation of plastics under environmental mechanical stresses is poorly understood. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 27, 2024
  5. Abstract Variations in stratospheric ozone and changes in the aquatic environment by climate change and human activity are modifying the exposure of aquatic ecosystems to UV radiation. These shifts in exposure have consequences for the distributions of species, biogeochemical cycles, and services provided by aquatic ecosystems. This Quadrennial Assessment presents the latest knowledge on the multi-faceted interactions between the effects of UV irradiation and climate change, and other anthropogenic activities, and how these conditions are changing aquatic ecosystems. Climate change results in variations in the depth of mixing, the thickness of ice cover, the duration of ice-free conditions and inputs of dissolved organic matter, all of which can either increase or decrease exposure to UV radiation. Anthropogenic activities release oil, UV filters in sunscreens, and microplastics into the aquatic environment that are then modified by UV radiation, frequently amplifying adverse effects on aquatic organisms and their environments. The impacts of these changes in combination with factors such as warming and ocean acidification are considered for aquatic micro-organisms, macroalgae, plants, and animals (floating, swimming, and attached). Minimising the disruptive consequences of these effects on critical services provided by the world’s rivers, lakes and oceans (freshwater supply, recreation, transport, and food security) will not only require continued adherence to the Montreal Protocol but also a wider inclusion of solar UV radiation and its effects in studies and/or models of aquatic ecosystems under conditions of the future global climate. Graphical abstract 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 13, 2024
  6. Abstract The Environmental Effects Assessment Panel of the Montreal Protocol under the United Nations Environment Programme evaluates effects on the environment and human health that arise from changes in the stratospheric ozone layer and concomitant variations in ultraviolet (UV) radiation at the Earth’s surface. The current update is based on scientific advances that have accumulated since our last assessment (Photochem and Photobiol Sci 20(1):1–67, 2021). We also discuss how climate change affects stratospheric ozone depletion and ultraviolet radiation, and how stratospheric ozone depletion affects climate change. The resulting interlinking effects of stratospheric ozone depletion, UV radiation, and climate change are assessed in terms of air quality, carbon sinks, ecosystems, human health, and natural and synthetic materials. We further highlight potential impacts on the biosphere from extreme climate events that are occurring with increasing frequency as a consequence of climate change. These and other interactive effects are examined with respect to the benefits that the Montreal Protocol and its Amendments are providing to life on Earth by controlling the production of various substances that contribute to both stratospheric ozone depletion and climate change. 
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  8. Water quality measures for inland and coastal waters are available as discrete samples from professional and volunteer water quality monitoring programs and higher-frequency, near-continuous data from automated in situ sensors. Water quality parameters also are estimated from model outputs and remote sensing. The integration of these data, via data assimilation, can result in a more holistic characterization of these highly dynamic ecosystems, and consequently improve water resource management. It is becoming common to see combinations of these data applied to answer relevant scientific questions. Yet, methods for scaling water quality data across regions and beyond, to provide actionable knowledge for stakeholders, have emerged only recently, particularly with the availability of satellite data now providing global coverage at high spatial resolution. In this paper, data sources and existing data integration frameworks are reviewed to give an overview of the present status and identify the gaps in existing frameworks. We propose an integration framework to provide information to user communities through the the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) AquaWatch Initiative. This aims to develop and build the global capacity and utility of water quality data, products, and information to support equitable and inclusive access for water resource management, policy and decision making. 
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