Sterner, Robert W., Anagnostou, Eleni, Brovold, Sandra, Bullerjahn, George S., Finlay, Jacques C., Kumar, Sanjeev, McKay, R. Michael L. and Sherrell, Robert M.
Increasing stoichiometric imbalance in North America’s largest lake: Nitrification in Lake Superior
Geophysical Research Letters, 34, . (doi:10.1029/2006GL028861).
Lake Superior has exhibited a continuous, century-long increase in nitrate whereas phosphate remains at very low levels. Increasing nitrate and low phosphate has led to a present-day severe stoichiometric imbalance; Lake Superior’s deepwater NO3 :PO43 molar ratio is 10,000, more than 600 times the mean requirement ratio for primary producers. We examine the rate of [NO3?] increase relative to budgets for NO3 and fixed N. Nitrate in Lake Superior has continued to rise since 1980, though possibly at a reduced rate. We constructed whole-lake NO3 and N budgets and found that NO3 must be generated in the lake at significant rates. Stable O isotope results indicate that most NO3 in the lake originated by in-lake oxidation. Nitrate in the lake is responding not just to NO3 loading but also to oxidation of reduced forms of nitrogen delivered to the lake. The increasing [NO3]:[PO43] stoichiometric imbalance in this large lake is largely determined by these in-situ processes.
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