Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub
    Author(s): Amy M. Marcarelli; Ashley A. Coble; Karl M. Meingast; Evan S. Kane; Colin N. Brooks; Ishi Buffam; Sarah A. Green; Casey Huckins; David Toczydlowski; Robert Stottlemyer
    Date: 2019
    Source: JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Northern Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (6.0 MB)


    Lake Superior receives inputs from approximately 2,800 tributaries that provide nutrients and dissolved organic matter (DOM) to the nearshore zone of this oligotrophic lake. Here, we review the magnitude and timing of tributary export and plume formation in Lake Superior, how these patterns and interactions may shift with global change, and how emerging technologies can be used to better characterize tributary–lake linkages. Peak tributary export occurs during snowmelt-driven spring freshets, with additional pulses during raindriven storms. Instream processing and transformation of nitrogen, phosphorus, and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) can be rapid but varies seasonally in magnitude. Tributary plumes with elevated DOC concentration, higher turbidity, and distinct DOM character can be detected in the nearshore during times of high runoff, but plumes can be quickly transported and diluted by in-lake currents and mixing. Understanding the variability in size and load of these tributary plumes, how they are transported within the lake, and how long they persist may be best addressed with environmental sensors and remote sensing using autonomous and unmanned vehicles. The connections between Lake Superior and its tributaries are vulnerable to climate change, and understanding and predicting future changes to these valuable freshwater resources will require a nuanced and detailed consideration of tributary inputs and interactions in time and space.

    Publication Notes

    • Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
    • Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat.
    • During the capture process some typographical errors may occur.
    • Please contact Sharon Hobrla, if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Marcarelli, Amy M.; Coble, Ashley A.; Meingast, Karl M.; Kane, Evan S.; Brooks, Colin N.; Buffam, Ishi; Green, Sarah A.; Huckins, Casey J; Toczydlowski, David; Stottlemyer, Robert. 2019. Of Small Streams and Great Lakes: Integrating Tributaries to Understand the Ecology and Biogeochemistry of Lake Superior. JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association. 55(2): 442-458.


    Google Scholar


    aquatic ecology, biogeochemistry, lakes, Great Lakes, watersheds, stream–lake interactions, streams, nutrients, dissolved organic carbon, dissolved organic matter

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page