Book Chapter

Nutrient cycling in Lake Kivu

This chapter summarizes the knowledge on mixing and transport processes in Lake Kivu. Seasonal mixing, which varies in intensity from year to year, influences the top ∼65 m. Below, the lake is permanently stratified, with density increasing stepwise from ∼998 kg m−3 at the surface to ∼1,002 kg m−3 at the maximum depth of 485 m. The permanently stratified deep water is divided into two distinctly different zones by a main gradient layer. This gradient is maintained by a strong inflow of relatively fresh and cool water entering at ∼250 m depth which is the most important of several subaquatic springs affecting the density stratification. The springs drive a slow upwelling of the whole water column with a depth-dependent rate of 0.15–0.9 m year−1. This upwelling is the main driver of internal nutrient recycling and upward transport of dissolved gases. Diffusive transport in the deep water is dominated by double-diffusive convection, which manifests in a spectacular staircase of more than 300 steps and mixed layers. Double diffusion allows heat to be removed from the deep zone faster than dissolved substances, supporting the stable stratification and the accumulation of nutrients and gases over hundreds of years. The stratification in the lake seems to be near steady-state conditions, except for a warming trend of ∼0.01°C year−1..


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