Title: Reaction of Large and Shallow Lakes Peipsi and Võrtsjärv to the Changes of Nutrient Loading
Citation: HYDROBIOLOGIA vol. 584 no. 1 p. 253-264
Publisher: SPRINGER
Publication Year: 2007
JRC N°: JRC37534
ISSN: 0018-8158
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC37534
DOI: 10.1007/s10750-007-0603-z
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: More than 20-year monitoring of Estonian rivers reveals that the loading of nitrogen to large shallow lakes Peipsi (3,555 km2, mean depth 7.1 m) and Võrtsjärv (270 km2, mean depth 2.8 m) decreased substantially in the 1990s. Phosphorus loading decreased to a much smaller extent than nitrogen loading. In L. Võrtsjärv both N and P concentrations followed the decreasing trends of loading, which show the high sensitivity of large shallow lakes to catchment processes. Our study showed a positive relationship between P content in sediments and the relative depth of the lake. Assumingly the resilience of a lake in responding to the reduction of nutrient loading decreases together with the decrease of its relative depth. In L. Peipsi the concentration of P has not decreased since the 1990s. Our data show indirectly that P loading from Russia to L. Peipsi may have increased. The N/P ratio has decreased in both lakes. Cyanobacterial blooms have been common in both lakes already at the beginning of the 20th century. The blooms disappeared during heavy nitrogen loading in the 1980s but started again in L. Peipsi in recent years together with the drop of the N/P ratio. In L. Võrtsjärv the N/P ratio is higher and the ecosystem is more stable although the share of N2-fixing cyanobacteria increased from the 1990s. Reappearing cyanobacterial blooms in L. Peipsi have caused fish-kills in recent years. In L. Peipsi summer/autumn fishkills during water-blooms are a straightforward consequence of reduced nitrogen level at remaining high phosphorus level while in L. Võrtsjärv the climatic factors affecting water level are more critical - at low water level winter fish-kills may occur. In L. Võrtsjärv nutrient loading has decreased and water quality has improved, present ecological status seems to be mostly controlled by climatic factors through changes of water level. The most important measure to improve water quality in L. Peipsi would be the reduction of phosphorus loading from both Estonian and Russian subcatchments.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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