Relative contributions of stream concentration, stream discharge and shoreline load to base cation trends in Red Chalk and Harp lakes, south-central Ontario, Canada

Abstract We evaluated the importance and contributions of changes in stream base cation concentration, stream discharge and lake shoreline load to changes in base cation concentrations in two small inland lakes in south-central Ontario. The shoreline load from ungauged drainage areas was calculated with a mass balance equation. An evaluation method based on the partial Mann–Kendall test quantified the relative contributions of these three explanatory drivers to the observed trends in lake concentration of Ca, K, Mg and Na. Over a 29-year period (1978–2006) at Red Chalk and Harp lakes, declines in stream concentration and discharge were correlated with the declines in lake concentrations of all base cations (except for Na in Harp Lake), with contributions of 21–81\% from stream concentration and 12–58\% from discharge, whereas the shoreline load had little contribution to observed trends. The observed unusual increase in Na concentration at Harp Lake was correlated with the increase in stream Na concentration and additional load from road salts, with the shoreline load contributing a substantial 37\%. These results may be applicable to numerous inland lakes with similar site conditions, including lakes found on the Canadian Shield. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley \& Sons, Ltd.