Water quality of Loch Leven: responses to enrichment, restoration and climate change
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It is usually assumed that climate change will have negative impacts on water quality and hinder restoration efforts. The long-term monitoring at Loch Leven shows, however, that seasonal changes in temperature and rainfall may have positive and negative impacts on water quality. In response to reductions in external nutrient loading, there have been significant reductions in in-lake phosphorus concentrations. Annual measures of chlorophyll a have, however, shown little response to these reductions. Warmer spring temperatures appear to be having a positive effect on Daphnia densities and this may be the cause of reduced chlorophyll a concentrations in spring and an associated improvement in water clarity in May and June. The clearest climate impact was the negative relationship between summer rainfall and chlorophyll a concentrations. This is highlighted in extreme weather years, with the three wettest summers having very low chlorophyll a concentrations and the driest summers having high concentrations. To predict water quality impacts of future climate change, there is a need for more seasonal predictions from climate models and a greater recognition that water quality is the outcome of seasonal responses in different functional groups of phytoplankton and zooplankton to a range of environmental drivers.