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Long-term phosphorus mass-balance of Lake Erie (Canada-USA) reveals a major contribution of in-lake phosphorus loading.

Description: While early efforts to reduce external phosphorus (P) loads to Lake Erie eliminated the worst eutrophication symptoms in the 1970s and 1980s, the observed intensification of these symptoms in recent decades is difficult to explain by changes in the external P loading alone. We hypothesized that, in addition to external inputs, in-lake processes that release P to the water column may be contributing to the re-eutrophication of Lake Erie. Directly measuring these internal inputs is challenging and their scaling up to the entire lake system remains fraught with uncertainty. To constrain the magnitude of the net P input associated with in-lake processes, we generated a long-term net annual total P (TP) budget for the Lake St. Clair–Lake Erie system, averaged over a 14-year period, from 2003 to 2016. The budget shows that the net TP output from the system substantially exceeds the sum of the external TP inputs. To balance the budget, we estimate that in-lake processes add a net internal TP load of 3783 metric tons per year (MTA) to the water column. In comparison, the mean yearly external TP load to the Lake St. Clair–Lake Erie system is 11,703 MTA. Thus, overall, the internal P input represents about a quarter of the total (external plus internal) TP input. The internal input is not evenly distributed among system’s basins, however, with Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie’s western, central, and eastern basins receiving 6, 13, 21 and 60% of the total internal input, respectively. Our results confirm the importance of accounting for the internal P loading in nutrient cycling models and load reduction strategies for large lake systems.
Notes: This dataset is cited by Bocaniov, S.A., D. Scavia, P. Van Cappellen (2023): Long-term phosphorus mass-balance of Lake Erie (Canada-USA) reveals a major contribution of in-lake phosphorus loading. Ecological Informatics (print ISSN: 1574-9541; online ISSN: 1878-0512).
Item exited embargo and became publicly available on 2023-10-31
Authors: Bocaniov, Serghei; University of Waterloo; ORCID iD 0000-0001-5988-2034
Keywords: Total phosphorus
external inputs
in-lake loading
net mass budget
Lake Erie
Lake St. Clair
Detroit River
St. Clair River
water budget
phosphorus budget
Field of Research: 
Biological sciences
Ecological applications
Ecosystem function
Publication Date: 2023-10-31
Publisher: Federated Research Data Repository / dépôt fédéré de données de recherche
Funder: Global Water Futures
Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF)
Related Identifiers: 
Geographic Coverage: 
Place Name
Laurentian Great Lakes
Province /
Province / Territory
Geolocation Box: 
West Longitude
East Longitude
North Latitude
South Latitude
Geographic Point: 
Appears in Collections:Water Institute

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Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0 1.0)
Bocaniov, S. (2023). Long-term phosphorus mass-balance of Lake Erie (Canada-USA) reveals a major contribution of in-lake phosphorus loading.. Federated Research Data Repository.