Under-ice metabolism in a shallow lake in a cold and arid climate

Shuang Song, Changyou Li, Xiaohong Shi, Shegnan Zhao, Weidong Tian, Zhijun Li, Yila Bai, Xiaowei Cao, Qingkai Wang, Jussi Huotari, Tiina Tulonen, Sari Uusheimo, Matti Leppäranta, John Loehr, Lauri Arvola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Winter is a long period of the annual cycle of many lakes in the northern hemisphere. Low irradiance, ice, and snow cover cause poor light penetration into the water column of these lakes. Therefore, in northern lakes, respiration often exceeds primary production leading to low dissolved oxygen concentrations. This study aimed to quantify under-ice metabolic processes during winter in an arid zone lake with little snow cover. This study was carried out in a mid-latitude lake in Inner Mongolia, northern China. The study lake receives relatively high incoming solar radiation on the ice in mid-winter, and radiation can penetrate down to the bottom sediment as the lake is shallow and the ice lacks snow cover. Primary production and respiration were estimated during two winters using high-frequency sensor measurements of dissolved oxygen. To quantify under-ice metabolic processes, sensors were deployed to different depths. During both winters, sensors collected data every 10 min over several weeks. The amount of solar radiation controlled photosynthesis under ice; temperature and photosynthesis together appeared to control respiration. The balance between gross primary production and ecosystem respiration was especially sensitive to changes in snow cover, and the balance between P and R decreased. Our data suggest that photosynthesis by plankton, submerged plants, and epiphytic algae may continue over winter in shallow lakes in mid-latitudes when there is no snow cover on the ice, as may occur in arid climates. The continuation of photosynthesis under ice buffers against dissolved oxygen depletion and prevents consequent harmful ecosystem effects.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFreshwater Biology
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)1710-1720
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • CO2
  • Lake Wuliangsuhai
  • O-2
  • net ecosystem production
  • photosynthesis
  • respiration
  • winter limnology
  • 1172 Environmental sciences
  • 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology

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