Drivers of phytoplankton responses to summer storms in a stratified lake: a modelling study

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Jorrit Padric Mesman , Ana I. Ayala , Stéphane Goyette , Jerome Kasparian , Rafael Marcé , Hampus Markensten , Julio A. A. Stelzer , Michael W. Thayne , Mridul K. Thomas , Don C. Pierson , Bas W. Ibelings 


Extreme wind events affect lake phytoplankton amongst others by deepening the mixed layer and increasing internal nutrient loading. Both increases and decreases of phytoplankton biomass after storms have been observed, but the precise mechanisms driving these responses remain poorly understood or quantified. In this study, we coupled a one-dimensional physical model to a biogeochemical model to investigate the factors regulating short-term phytoplankton responses to summer storms, now and under expected warmer future conditions. We simulated physical, chemical and biological dynamics in Lake Erken, Sweden, and found that wind storms could increase or decrease the phytoplankton concentration one week after the storm, depending on antecedent lake physical and chemical conditions. Storms had little effect on phytoplankton biomass if the mixed layer was deep prior to storm exposure. Higher incoming shortwave radiation and hypolimnetic nutrient concentration boosted growth, whereas higher surface water temperatures decreased phytoplankton concentration after storms. Medium-intensity wind speeds resulted in more phytoplankton biomass after storms than high-intensity wind. Simulations under a future climate scenario did not show marked differences in the way wind affects phytoplankton growth following storms. Our study shows that storm impacts on lake phytoplankton are complex and likely to vary as a function of local environmental conditions.



Hydrology, Other Environmental Sciences, Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology


Storms, Nutrient entrainment


Published: 2021-08-03 05:51

Last Updated: 2022-03-01 18:10

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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