Aquatic Sciences

, Volume 73, Issue 2, pp 289–304 | Cite as

“Dead Zone” dynamics in Lake Erie: the importance of weather and sampling intensity for calculated hypolimnetic oxygen depletion rates

  • Joseph D. Conroy
  • Leon Boegman
  • Hongyan Zhang
  • William J. Edwards
  • David A. Culver
Research Article

Abstract

Calculated hypolimnetic oxygen depletion (HOD) rates depend not only on environmental factors but also logistical ones. In particular, lack of understanding of the effects of weather in addition to how sampling effort determines calculated HOD rates complicates ecological understanding and environmental management of lake ecosystems. To better determine the roles of weather and sampling effort, we combined (1) weekly measurements of temperature and dissolved oxygen (DO) concentrations from seven stations in the Sandusky subbasin of Lake Erie’s central basin during 2005, (2) contemporaneous measures of storm activity and tributary discharge, and (3) a two-dimensional coupled hydrodynamic, chemical, and biological model of Lake Erie to investigate (1) how increased storm activity and tributary discharge affected short- (daily) and long-term (seasonal) dynamics of hypolimnetic hypoxia, and (2) how spatial (number of sites sampled) and temporal (sampling frequency) sampling effort affected calculated HOD rates. Our model closely replicated field-observed DO dynamics. When comparing baseline modeled dynamics to those in a second simulation with twice the number of days with high winds, however, we found that with more storm activity (1) periods of entrainment became more frequent, (2) the hypolimnion was warmer, (3) thermal stratification occurred 1 month later, whereas autumnal turnover occurred at least 1 week earlier shortening the duration of stratification by 1–2 months, and (4) HOD rates increased 12%. Further, spatial and temporal sampling intensity also affected calculated HOD rates. Consequently, adequately quantifying actual HOD rates requires sufficient sampling effort and the particular role of weather should be assessed with rigorous field and simulation studies, especially if HOD rates are used to indicate management success.

Keywords

Storm-induced mixing Hypoxia Anoxia CE-QUAL-W2 

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Copyright information

© Springer Basel AG 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph D. Conroy
    • 1
    • 6
  • Leon Boegman
    • 2
  • Hongyan Zhang
    • 3
  • William J. Edwards
    • 4
  • David A. Culver
    • 5
  1. 1.Aquatic Ecology Laboratory, Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal BiologyThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Department of Civil EngineeringQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  3. 3.Cooperative Institute for Limnology and Ecosystems ResearchUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  4. 4.Department of BiologyNiagara UniversityLewistonUSA
  5. 5.Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal BiologyThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  6. 6.Inland Fisheries Research Unit, Division of WildlifeOhio Department of Natural ResourcesHebronUSA

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