Climate Related Impacts on a Lake From Physics to Biology

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: Climatic variation and change affect the dynamics of organisms and ecosystem processes. This thesis examines phytoplankton as a target variable to trace climatic impacts on Lake Erken (Sweden) with special emphasis on the spring bloom. A strong correlation between the timing of the spring bloom and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) illustrates the link between atmospheric pressure variations and local biological processes. The predictive power increased by applying a recently established regional Scandinavian Circulation Index (SCI). Changes to an earlier timing of the spring bloom and elevated water temperature were induced by the global warming trend. The climate signal was still persistent in summer manifested by an enhanced summer phytoplankton biomass. Between spring and summer, the phytoplankton was mainly controlled by phosphorus limitation. The application of a new method to measure alkaline phosphatase activity revealed that P-limitation varied between species and among individual cells.Combining the above knowledge and literature data, the impact of the NAO on the timing of life history events, biomass and trophic cascade in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems was quantitatively tested with a meta-analysis. In all environments, pronounced effects of the NAO were apparent, indicating the generality of climate effects found in different ecosystems. Finally, a regional climate model was applied, forcing a physical lake model from which future lake conditions were simulated. The simulation revealed a one-month shorter ice cover period with two years out of ten being completely ice free. Internal eutrophication is one of the expected consequences. In conclusion, the strong influences of global and regional climate are apparent in local physical, chemical and biological variables and will most probably also in future affect the structure and function of processes in lakes.