Comparison of thermal stratification, light attenuation and Chlorophyll-a dynamics between the ends of Lake Tanganyika

V.T. Langenberg, L.M. Mwape, K. Tshibangu, A.A. Koelmans, R. Roijackers, K. Salonen, J. Sarvala, H. Mölsa

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26 Citations (Scopus)


Thermal structure, light attenuation, and chlorophyll- a dynamics within the upper 100 m at the northern and southern ends of Lake Tanganyika were measured from August 1995-July 1996. Pronounced variability of thermal structure in time, depth and region were observed. During the dry windy season (June-September), the water column in the south was largely isothermal down to 100 m, while in the north stratification was detectable. Subsequently, in October, cessation of winds coincided with a reestablishment and strengthening of thermal stratification in the south, and a distinct rise of a weakened thermocline in the north was accompanied by an increase in epilimnetic concentrations of dissolved solids. The depth of photic zone was highly variable with the average position of 1% of incident photosynthetically active radiance found between 20 and 70 m, sometimes showing vertical shifts of 25 m a week. Weekly observations showed that concentrations of chlorophyll- a were rather similar at both ends of the lake. At both stations, periods of unstable or absent thermal stratification were accompanied by increased concentrations of chlorophyll- a , although in the north chlorophyll- a also peaked during periods of deep thermal stratification and low rates of mixing. Concentrations of chlorophyll- a did not show significant relationship with the available amount of underwater available photosynthetically active radiance (I m from 11-173 w Em -2 s -1 ). We suggest that in Lake Tanganyika chlorophyll- a maxima can occur whenever growth rates exceed spatial mixing rates, that is, if mixing is less than a critical turbulence. Our observations underscore the consequences of hydrodynamic processes on biological productivity either by securing internal nutrients or by controlling the timing and magnitude of phytoplankton biomass production.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-265
JournalAquatic Ecosystem Health and Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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