Oxygen depletion and sediment respiration in ice-covered arctic lakes

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TitleOxygen depletion and sediment respiration in ice-covered arctic lakes
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsSchwefel, R, MacIntyre, S, Cortés, A, Sadro, S
JournalLimnology and Oceanography
KeywordsLTER-ARC, update-2023-02

Processes regulating the rate of oxygen depletion determine whether hypoxia occurs and the extent to which greenhouse gases accumulate in seasonally ice-covered lakes. Here, we investigate the oxygen budget of four arctic lakes using high-frequency data during two winters in three shallow lakes (9–13 m maximal depth) and four winters in 24 m deep main basin of Toolik Lake. Incubation experiments measured sediment metabolism. Volume-averaged oxygen depletion measured in situ was independent of water temperature and duration of the ice-covered period. Average rates were between 0.2 and 0.39 g O2 m−2 d−1 in the shallow lakes and between 0.03 and 0.14 g O2 m−2 d−1 in Toolik Lake, with higher rates in smaller lakes with their larger sediment area to volume ratio. Rates decreased to 20%–50% of initial values in late winter in the shallow lakes but less or not at all in Toolik. The lack of a decline in Toolik Lake points to continued oxygen transport to the sediment–water interface where oxygen consumption occurs. In all lakes, lower in situ oxygen depletion than in incubation measurements points toward increasing anoxia in the lower water column depressing loss rates. In Toolik, oxygen loss during early winter was less in years with minimal snow cover. Penetrative convection occurred, which could mix downwards oxygen produced by photosynthesis or excluded during ice formation. Estimates of these terms exceeded photosynthesis measured in sediment incubations. Modeling under ice-oxygen dynamics requires consideration of optical properties and biological and transport processes that modify oxygen concentrations and distributions.