The long-term response of lake nutrient and chlorophyll concentrations to changes in nutrient loading in Ireland's largest lake, Lough Neagh
Royal Irish Academy
The long-term response of chlorophyll-a (chl-a) to changing lake water nutrient concentrations and increasing water temperature was investigated in Lough Neagh, a large, hypereutrophic lake in Northern Ireland. Trends in external and internal nutrient loading and their relation to lake nutrient concentrations were also established. Lake water concentrations of total P (TP) have increased since the 1990s but were not correlated with catchment inputs, which showed no trend. The characteristics of internal loading of P have changed since the mid-1990s, with an earlier and larger mass of P released from the sediments each summer. Catchment inputs of total oxidised N (NOx) decreased from the peak value of 10,186T/yr in 1995 to 5,396T/yr in 2011, coinciding with a reduction in lake water concentrations. External inputs and lake concentrations of NOx were highly correlated (R=0.88). Water temperature increased approximately 1C and was a predictor of variation in chl-a from 1974 to 2012. After the peak chl-a concentration in 1993, dissolved inorganic N (DIN) also became an important predictor, accounting for almost half of the 44% variance explained by a hierarchical partition model. Decreasing log (DIN:TP) ratios suggest that N limitation of chl-a has become more important in the lake recently.
Publication history: Accepted - 11 December 2020; Published - 29 April 2021.
McElarney, Rippey, Miller, Allen and Unwin (2021) ‘The long-term response of lake nutrient and chlorophyll concentrations to changes in nutrient loading in Ireland’s largest lake, Lough Neagh’, Biology and Environment: Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 121B(1), p. 47. doi: 10.3318/bioe.2021.04.