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Evidence for the Importance of Atmospheric Nitrogen Deposition to Eutrophic Lake Dianchi, China

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posted on 2017-06-01, 00:00 authored by Xiaoying Zhan, Yan Bo, Feng Zhou, Xuejun Liu, Hans W. Paerl, Jianlin Shen, Rong Wang, Farong Li, Shu Tao, Yanjun Dong, Xiaoyan Tang
Elevated atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition has significantly influenced aquatic ecosystems, especially with regard to their N budgets and phytoplankton growth potentials. Compared to a considerable number of studies on oligotrophic lakes and oceanic waters, little evidence for the importance of N deposition has been generated for eutrophic lakes, even though emphasis has been placed on reducing external N inputs to control eutrophication in these lakes. Our high-resolution observations of atmospheric depositions and riverine inputs of biologically reactive N species into eutrophic Lake Dianchi (the sixth largest freshwater lake in China) shed new light onto the contribution of N deposition to total N loads. Annual N deposition accounted for 15.7% to 16.6% of total N loads under variable precipitation conditions, 2-fold higher than previous estimates (7.6%) for the Lake Dianchi. The proportion of N deposition to total N loads further increased to 27–48% in May and June when toxic blooms of the ubiquitous non-N2 fixing cyanobacteria Microcystis spp. are initiated and proliferate. Our observations reveal that reduced N (59%) contributes a greater amount than oxidized N to total N deposition, reaching 56–83% from late spring to summer. Progress toward mitigating eutrophication in Lake Dianchi and other bloom-impacted eutrophic lakes will be difficult without reductions in ammonia emissions and subsequent N deposition.

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