The impact of climate change and eutrophication on phosphorus forms in sediment: Results from a long-term lake mesocosm experiment

Katrin Saar*, Peeter Nõges, Martin Søndergaard, Maria Jensen, Charlotte Jørgensen, Kasper Reitzel, Erik Jeppesen, Torben L. Lauridsen, Henning S. Jensen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Characteristics of bottom sediments in lake mesocosms 11 years after starting the experiment were studied in order to determine the effects of nutrient loading, temperature increase and vegetation type on concentration and vertical distribution of phosphorus (P) forms. The experimental setup consisted of 24 outdoor flow-through mesocosms with two nutrient treatments – low (L) and high (H) and 3 temperature levels – ambient (T0), heated by 2–4 °C (T1) and 3–6 °C (T2) in four replicates. Thickness of the organic sediment was measured and the sediment analysed for dry weight, organic matter, and P fractions (according to a sequential extraction scheme) and organic P compounds (by 31P nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy). Higher nutrient loading led to increased sediment accumulation and higher concentration of total P and most P fractions, except P bound to aluminium and humic matter. The dominant vegetation type covaried with nutrient levels. Vertical gradients in Ca bound P and mobile P in low nutrient mesocosms was perhaps a result of P coprecipitation with calcite on macrophytes and P uptake by roots indicating that in macrophyte-rich lakes, plants can be important modifiers of early P diagenesis. Temperature alone did not significantly affect sediment accumulation rate but the interaction effect between nutrient and temperature treatments was significant. At high nutrient loading, sediment thickness decreased with increasing temperature, but at low nutrient loading, it increased with warming. The effect of warming on sediment composition became obvious only in nutrient enriched mesocosms showing that eutrophication makes shallow lake ecosystems more susceptible to climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number153751
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 15. Jun 2022


  • P NMR
  • Macrophytes
  • Nutrient load
  • P-pools
  • Sediment accumulation
  • Sequential extraction
  • Shallow lake
  • Temperature gradient


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