Optical Properties of Polish Lakes: The Secchi Disc Transparency

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Abstract

The spatial variation of water transparency of the largest Polish lakes was presented on the basis of documentary material collected by the Voivodeship Inspectorates for Environment Protection as well as university geography departments in the period of 1991-2013. Seasonal results of the Secchi disc measurements (spring, summer) for 706 lakes were gathered. This is more than 68% of the total number of Polish lakes with a surface area larger than 50 ha. The mean water transparency of these lakes was 1.87 m, while the median was 1.58 m. Distinct inter-regional differences of the Secchi disc transparency were found, and it was also possible to distinguish three relatively homogeneous groups of macroregions where lakes have different optical characteristics. They can be divided into areas with lakes with high (3.05 m), medium (1.99-2.11 m) and low (1.22-1.52 m) water transparency. The Secchi disc transparency of these lakes was also analysed in relation to concentration values of the main forms of the optically significant constituents of water (coloured dissolved organic matter, suspended matter). The mean transparency of turbid, stained and clear lakes was, respectively, 1.16, 2.02, and 2.92 m. Moreover, regional empirical models to predict Secchi disc transparency from chlorophyll a concentration were also developed. It was assumed that inter-regional differences between models could be due to the probably different time of the ice sheet recession. The influence of the lake morphometry was most fully reflected in the impact of the depth conditions.

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