Anthropogenic climate change has altered primary productivity in Lake Superior

M. D. O'Beirne, J. P. Werne, R. E. Hecky, T. C. Johnson, Sergei Katsev, Euan D Reavie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Anthropogenic climate change has the potential to alter many facets of Earth's freshwater resources, especially lacustrine ecosystems. The effects of anthropogenic changes in Lake Superior, which is Earth's largest freshwater lake by area, are not well documented (spatially or temporally) and predicted future states in response to climate change vary. Here we show that Lake Superior experienced a slow, steady increase in production throughout the Holocene using (paleo)productivity proxies in lacustrine sediments to reconstruct past changes in primary production. Furthermore, data from the last century indicate a rapid increase in primary production, which we attribute to increasing surface water temperatures and longer seasonal stratification related to longer ice-free periods in Lake Superior due to anthropogenic climate warming. These observations demonstrate that anthropogenic effects have become a prominent influence on one of Earth's largest, most pristine lacustrine ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number15713
Pages (from-to)15713
Number of pages1
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Jun 9 2017

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