ARPHA Conference Abstracts : Conference Abstract
Conference Abstract
Phosphorus and Lake Eutrophication: Recent Findings and Emerging Challenges
expand article info Philippe Van Cappellen
‡ University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada
Open Access


This presentation reviews some recent and ongoing research on phosphorus (P) cycling in a variety of lake systems. Phosphorus is an essential nutrient element, and its anthropogenic enrichment is generally considered to be the main driver of cultural eutrophication of freshwater lakes, which, in the worst case, leads to the occurrence of harmful algal blooms, the intensification of hypoxia and the die-off of aquatic life. The research presented shows that excess external P loading causes the accumulation of reactive chemical P forms in the bottom sediments of lakes (Update #1). The slow release of this reactive legacy P back to the water column can significantly delay a lake’s recovery following the reduction of external P loading (Update #2). Land use changes accompanying agricultural intensification and urbanization generally increase P emissions, but the implementation of agricultural and stormwater best management practices can effectively mitigate external P loads to receiving lakes (Update #3). However, additional stressors, including climate change and salinization, magnify in-lake P mobilization pathways and, hence, increase the risks of lake (re-)eutrophication (Update #4).


Phosphorus enrichment, lakes, eutrophication, sediment legacies, agriculture, urbanization, best management prectices, salinization, climate change

Presenting author

Philippe Van Cappellen

Presented at

Oral presentation, ISEB-ISSM 2023 Theme areas: Freshwater, groundwater, and rivers; Agriculture; Climate Change.


Many thanks to David O'Connell, Chris Parsons, Igor Markelov, Raoul Couture, Serghei Bocaniov, Jovana Radosavljevic, and Steph Slowinski. This work was in part funded through the Global Water Futures (GWF) funded by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF).

Conflicts of interest

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
login to comment