Economic development influences on sediment-bound nitrogen and phosphorus accumulation of lakes in China.Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2015 Dec; 22(23):18561-73.ES
China has been confronted with serious water quality deterioration concurrent with rapid socioeconomic progress during the past 40 years. Consequently, knowledge about economic growth and lake water quality dynamics is important to understand eutrophication processes. Objectives were to (i) reconstruct historical nutrient accumulation and the basin economic progress on burial flux (BF); (ii) determine forms and structures of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) in sediment and water using six cores in three of the most severely eutrophic lake areas in China (i.e., Eastern Plain, Yunnan-Guizhou Plain, and Inner Mongolia-Xinjiang regions). Results suggest that BFs of total nitrogen (TN) continued to increase in sediment, whereas total phosphorus (TP) levels were consistent or only slightly increased, except in highly polluted lakes during the past decades. Similar results were observed for concentrations of nutrients in water (i.e., increased N/P). This historical distribution pattern was correlated to long-term fertilization practices of farmers in the watershed (N fertilization exceeds that of P) and was contingent upon pollution control policies (e.g., emphasized P whereas N was ignored). Vertical profiles of BFs indicated that lake nutrient accumulation included three stages in China. Nutrient accumulation started in the 1980s, accelerated from the 1990s, and then declined after 2000. Before the 1980s, nutrients were relatively low and stable, with nutrient inputs being controlled by natural processes. Thereafter, N- and P-bound sediments dramatically increased due to the increasing influence of anthropogenic processes. Nutrients were primarily derived from industries and domestic sewage. After 2000, BFs of nutrients were steady and even decreased, owing to implementation of watershed load reduction policies. The decreasing NaOH-extracted P (Fe/Al-P) and increasing organic phosphorus (OP) indicated that the source of exogenous pollution underwent a shift. Inputs of nutrients were predominantly from agricultural and domestic sewage, whereas industrial pollution has been gradually controlled in most of the watersheds. Historical nutrient dynamics suggest that the economy of China is growing at the expense of its aquatic ecological environments. Therefore, more attention to nutrient export to groundwater resulting from economic development is important for further aquatic ecosystem deterioration and eutrophication in China.