, Volume 824, Issue 1, pp 33–50 | Cite as

Climatic effects on vertical mixing and deep-water oxygen content in the subalpine lakes in Italy

  • Michela RogoraEmail author
  • Fabio Buzzi
  • Claudia Dresti
  • Barbara Leoni
  • Fabio Lepori
  • Rosario Mosello
  • Martina Patelli
  • Nico Salmaso


Deep lakes south of the Alps (DSL: Maggiore, Lugano, Como, Iseo and Garda) are characterised by varying trophic states and dissolved oxygen (DO) concentrations. Some of these lakes experience anoxic conditions in deep waters. We hypothesised that the increase in temperature and water-column stability observed in these lakes during recent decades influenced the deep-water DO concentration. In particular, we tested whether the thermal regime of the lakes and the depth of mixing affect oxygen replenishment during winter–spring turnover. To this aim, we analysed long-term trends and seasonal variability of oxygen levels in the DSL during 1992–2016. We included in our analysis the effects of environmental variables, such as winter air temperature and atmospheric modes of variability. Our results showed a recent decrease in the deep-water oxygen content in lakes Maggiore, Como and Garda and an increase of the extent of anoxic conditions in lakes Lugano and Iseo. Our results suggest that, beside cultural eutrophication, rising environmental pressures, such as global warming, can influence the future trends of the oxygen levels and ecological states of deep lakes.


Climate change Thermal regime Stratification Dissolved oxygen Eutrophication 



Investigations were carried out in the framework of the LTER (Long Term Ecological Research) Italian network, site ‘‘Southern Alpine lakes’’, IT08 ( We wish to thank all the technical staff, which has been involved in the long-term monitoring of the DSL. Research on lakes Lugano and Maggiore has been funded by the International Commission for the Protection of Swiss-Italian Waters (CIPAIS). In Lake Garda, scientific monitoring has been carried out with the support of ARPA Veneto. In Lake Iseo, scientific monitoring has been carried out with the support of Polizia Provinciale Brescia and research has been founded by FA of University Milan-Bicocca.

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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CNR Institute of Ecosystem StudyVerbania PallanzaItaly
  2. 2.UO CRLMBASARPA LombardiaOggiono, LeccoItaly
  3. 3.Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of Milano-BicoccaMilanItaly
  4. 4.University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI)CanobbioSwitzerland
  5. 5.Research and Innovation CentreFondazione Edmund Mach (FEM)San Michele all’AdigeItaly

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