DOI: 10.3390/hydrology10090181 ISSN:

Relating Lake Circulation Patterns to Sediment, Nutrient, and Water Hyacinth Distribution in a Shallow Tropical Highland Lake

Mebrahtom G. Kebedew, Seifu A. Tilahun, Fasikaw A. Zimale, Mulugeta A. Belete, Mekete D. Wosenie, Tammo S. Steenhuis
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Oceanography

Excess sediment and nutrient losses from intensifying agriculture degrade water quality and boost plant growth. The relationship between circulation patterns, spatial water quality degradation, and water hyacinth infestation is not adequately studied. The objective of this study is, therefore, to investigate the effect of lake circulation patterns on sediment and nutrient distribution and its implication on the spread of water hyacinth in a tropical lake. This study was carried out in Lake Tana, the largest freshwater lake in Ethiopia, where sediment and nutrient concentrations are increasing, and water hyacinths have become a challenge since 2011. The lake circulation pattern was simulated by the Delft3D model based on a bathymetry survey, discharge, and meteorological forcings. To predict the transport path of sediments and dissolved nutrients, an inert tracer was released in the four main river inlets of the lake. Observed lake water level measurements were used to validate the model. Our results show that the lake circulation pattern could explain the transport path of sediment and nutrients and the location of the water hyacinths found in the northeast of the lake. Sediments and nutrients from the largest river, Gilgel Abay, in the southeast of Lake Tana, flow through the two outlets nearby with little sediment deposition due to the relatively short retention time. The phosphorus-rich sediments of the 24 h at 105 °C remaining three main rivers joining the lake at the north and east are transported to the northeast. Thus, the management and control of water hyacinths should focus on the northern and eastern catchment areas of Lake Tana.

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