Hydrodynamic control of the underwater light climate in fluvial Lac Saint-Pierre

Frenette, Jean-Jacques, Michael T. Arts, Jean Morin, Denis Gratton, Carl Martin

Limnol. Oceanogr., 51(6), 2006, 2632-2645 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2006.51.6.2632

ABSTRACT: We measured characteristics of the underwater light spectra (e.g., attenuation of ultraviolet [UV] radiation, photosynthetically active radiation) and select dissolved and particulate physicochemical properties (e.g., chromophoric dissolved organic carbon [CDOM], dissolved and particulate organic carbon, inorganic dry weights, beam attenuation coefficients, particulate absorption coefficients, and nutrients) in different water masses of fluvial Lac Saint-Pierre (Canada). We used these variables as tracers to reveal the extent and magnitude of spatial and temporal heterogeneity in this large, shallow, fluvial lake of the St. Lawrence River. We superimposed these tracer variables over radiance data obtained from satellite images to identify spatial and temporal changes in the distribution of different water masses and their bio-optical components. The underwater light environment showed strong horizontal (longitudinal and lateral) variability because of the strong connectivity between the terrestrial and aquatic environments in the lake’s tributaries and adjoining wetlands. Analyzing the downstream distribution of optical and chemical variables as a function of transport time rather than distance from source tributaries allowed us to demonstrate large differences in the age of the different water masses depending on the characteristics of the source tributary, in-stream processes, and distance from its source. CDOM explained most of the UV attenuation and allowed the greatest discrimination between water masses.

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