Spatial predictors and temporal forecast of total organic carbon levels in boreal lakes
Peer reviewed, Journal article
MetadataShow full item record
Browning of Fennoscandian boreal lakes is raising concerns for negative ecosystem impacts as well as reduced drinking water quality. Declined sulfur deposition and warmer climate, along with afforestation, other climate impacts and less outfield grazing, have resulted in increased fluxes of Total Organic Carbon (TOC) from catchments to freshwater, and subsequently to coastal waters. This study assesses the major governing factors for increased TOC levels among several catchment characteristics in almost 5000 Fennoscandian lakes and catchments. Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), a proxy for plant biomass, and the proportions of peatland in the catchment, along with surface runoff intensity and nitrogen deposition loading, were identified as the main spatial predictors for lake TOC concentrations. A multiple linear model, based on these explanatory variables, was used to simulate future TOC concentration in surface runoff from coastal drainage basins in 2050 and 2100, using the forecasts of climatic variables in two of the Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSP): 1-2.6 (+2 °C) and 3-7.0 (+4,5 °C). These scenarios yield contrasting effects. SSP 1-2.6 predicts an overall decrease of TOC export to coastal waters, while SSP 3-7.0 in contrast leads to an increase in TOC export.