, Volume 70, Issue 2, pp 134-141
Date: 04 Apr 2008

Temporal variation in the water chemistry of northern Victoria Land lakes (Antarctica)

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Concentrations of major ions, silicate and nutrients (total N and P) were measured in samples of surface water from 28 lakes in ice-free areas of northern Victoria Land (East Antarctica). Sixteen lakes were sampled during austral summers 2001/02, 2003/04, 2004/05 and 2005/06 to assess temporal variation in water chemistry. Although samples showed a wide range in ion concentrations, their composition mainly reflected that of seawater. In general, as the distance from the sea increased, the input of elements from the marine environment (through aerosols and seabirds) decreased and there was an increase in nitrate and sulfate concentrations. Antarctic lakes lack outflows and during the austral summer the melting and/or ablation of ice cover, water evaporation and leaching processes in dry soils determine a progressive increase in water ion concentrations. During the five-year monitoring survey, no statistically significant variation in the water chemistry were detected, except for a slight (hardly significant) increase in TN concentrations. However, Canonical Correspondence Analysis (CCA) indicated that other factors besides distance from the sea, the presence of nesting seabirds, the sampling time and percentage of ice cover affect the composition of water in Antarctic cold desert environments.

Received: 28 June 2007; revised manuscript accepted: 8 January 2008