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  29 Jul 2020

29 Jul 2020

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESD.

A regional evaluation of the influence of climate change on long term trends in chlorophyll-a in large Italian lakes from satellite data

Gary Free1, Mariano Bresciani1, Monica Pinardi1, Nicola Ghirardi1, Giulia Luciani2, Rossana Caroni3, and Claudia Giardino1 Gary Free et al.
  • 1Institute for Electromagnetic Sensing of the Environment, National Research Council, Milan, 20133, Italy
  • 2Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy
  • 3Water Research Institute, National Research Council, Verbania, Pallanza, Italy

Abstract. Climate change has increased the temperature and altered the mixing regime of high-value lakes in the sub-alpine region of Northern Italy. Remote sensing of chlorophyll-a can help provide a time-series to allow an assessment of the ecological implications of this. Non-parametric multiplicative regression (NPMR) was used to visualize and understand the changes that have occurred between 2003–2018 in lakes Garda, Como, Iseo and Maggiore. In all four deep sub-alpine lakes there has been a disruption from a traditional pattern of a significant spring chlorophyll-a peak followed by a clear water phase and summer/autumn peaks. This was replaced after 2010–2012, with lower spring peaks and a tendency for annual maxima to occur in summer. There was a tendency for this switch to be interspersed by a two-year period of low chlorophyll-a, which seemed to extend until 2018 for Lake Garda. Variables that were significant in NPMR included time, air temperature, wind speed, cloud cover, winter temperature and winter values for the North Atlantic Oscillation and Eastern Atlantic pattern. The change from spring to summer chlorophyll-a maxima, relatively sudden in an ecological context, could be interpreted as a regime shift. The cause is probably cascading effects from increased winter temperatures, reduced winter mixing and altered nutrient dynamics. Future trends will depend on climate change and inter-decadal climate drivers.

Gary Free et al.

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