Nitrogen variations during the ice-on season in the eutrophic lakes.Environ Pollut. 2019 Apr; 247:1089-1099.EP
Nitrogen accumulation in sediments, and the subsequent migration and transformations between sediment and the overlying water, plays an important role in the lake nitrogen cycle. However, knowledge of these processes are largely confined to ice-free seasons. Recent research under ice has mainly focused on the water eco-environmental effects during winter. Sediment N accumulation during the ice-on season and its associated eco-environmental impacts have never been systematically investigated. To address these knowledge gaps, we chose Wuliangsu Lake in China as a case study site, taking advantage of the spatial disparity between the 13 semi-separated sub-lakes. Based on samples of 35 sampling sites collected before, in the middle, and at the end of ice-on season separately, we performed a quantitative analysis of under-ice lake N accumulation and water-sediment N exchange by analyzing N fraction variations. Hierarchical Cluster Analysis and Relevance Analysis were used to help elucidate the main causes and implications of under-ice N variation. Our results clearly show that existing studies have underestimated the impact of under-ice N accumulation on the lake ecology throughout year: 1) Sediment N accumulated 2-3 times more than that before winter; 2) residual nitrogen (Res-N) contributed to the majority of the accumulated sediment N and was mainly induced by the debris of macrophytes; 3) total available nitrogen (TAN) was the most easily exchanged fractions between sediment and water, and it mainly affected the water environment during winter; 4) the Res-N accumulation during the ice-on season may have a strong impact on the eco-environment in the subsequent seasons. Our research is valuable for understanding the mechanism of internal nutrient cycle and controlling the internal nitrogen pollution, especially in shallow seasonally-frozen lakes that have long suffered from macrophyte-phytoplankton co-dominated eutrophication.