Date of Award
Although hypoxia (dissolved oxygen <4 mg L-1) in the bottom waters of lakes, reservoirs, and estuaries may be a natural product of stratification in eutrophic or mesotrophic systems, there is increasing concern because the occurrence of hypoxia is spreading in many areas where hypoxia did not previously exist. Part of this new knowledge can be attributed to time-series data from buoy observatories that monitor systems in good weather and in bad, and allowing insight into the inner workings of a lake where sampling only a few times per year would not. This study made use of a five-year time-series of meteorological and water quality data in order to examine the effect of episodic wind-events on stratification and hypoxia within Muskegon Lake, Michigan, as well as performing bi-weekly lake-wide monitoring to evaluate the effects of stratification, hypoxia, and wind-events on the lake. In the wind-event portion of the study, we found that events where wind speeds were above average for an extended period of time occurred fairly frequently on the lake, but that thermal stratification allowed only the strongest events to significantly mix the water column at the buoy location a few times per year. This provided infrequent relief of hypoxia in the bottom waters. The second portion of the study found extensive effects on the water quality and biology in the bottom of the lake due to hypoxia such as increased phosphorus concentrations, enhanced phycocyanin following a strong windevent, and decreased fish abundance, richness, and size. We also found that hypoxia occurred lake-wide at all four sample locations, but was most stable at the deepest point in the lake that was least influenced by wind-events. It is possible that the combination of hypoxia and strong episodic wind-events leads to entrainment of phosphorus-rich waters to the surface initiating or continuing an algal bloom. Hypoxia and wind-event mediated internal loading of phosphorus could be a positive feedback loop for cyanobacterial blooms and hypoxia in Muskegon Lake.
Weinke, Anthony D., "Green and Choking: Exploring the Dynamics of Seasonal Productivity and Hypoxia in a Great Lakes Area of Concern and Habitat Blueprint Estuary Using Time-Series Measurements" (2016). Masters Theses. 813.