One common hypothesis is that wind can affect concentrations of nutrients (i.e., nitrogen and phosphorus) and chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) in shallow lakes. However, the tests of this hypothesis have yet to be conclusive in existing literature. The objective of this study was to use long-term data to examine how wind direction and wind speed affect the spatiotemporal variations of total nitrogen (TN), total phosphorus (TP) and Chl-a in Lake Tai, a typical shallow lake located in east China. The results indicated that the concentrations of nutrients and Chl-a tended to decrease from the northwest to the southeast of Lake Tai, with the highest concentrations in the two leeward bays (namely Meiliang Bay and Zhushan Bay) in the northwestern part of the lake. In addition to possible artificial reasons (e.g., wastewater discharge), the prevalent southeastward winds in warm seasons (i.e., spring and summer) and northwestward winds in cool seasons (i.e., fall and winter) might be the major natural factor for such a northwest-southeast decreasing spatial pattern. For the lake as a whole, the concentrations of TN, TP and Chl-a were highest for a wind speed between 2.1 and 3.2 m·s−1
, which can be attributed to the idea that the wind-induced drifting and mixing effects might be dominant in the bays while the wind-induced drifting and resuspension effects could be more important in the other parts of the lake. Given that the water depth of the bays was relatively larger than that of the other parts, the drifting and mixing effects were likely dominant in the bays, as indicated by the negative relationships between the ratios of wind speed to lake depth, which can be a surrogate for the vertical distribution of wind-induced shear stress and the TN, TP and Chl-a concentration. Moreover, the decreasing temporal trend of wind speed in combination with the ongoing anthropogenic activities will likely increase the challenge for dealing with the eutrophication problem of Lake Tai.
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