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Carbon Dynamics in Lake Malawi

This is a parallel project to the Lake Michigan CO2 dynamics study. Phytoplankton growth rates in large, tropical lakes are much higher than in their temperate counterparts. However, the implications of this tropical - temperate difference for carbon dynamics are uncertain. While many measurements of carbon fixation (photosynthesis) have been made in the African Great Lakes, there are few measurements of respiration, and so the role of these lakes in regional carbon budgets is not known. A better understanding of carbon dynamics may also improve our estimates of the fish production capacity of these lakes, in a region where fish is a critical food source.

Maxon Ngochera is measuring CO2 exchange between Lake Malawi and the atmosphere by conducting monthly cruises on a passenger ferry, the Ilala, during which he makes continuous measurements of CO2 partial pressure in the lake and the atmosphere. This work is made possible through the kind assistance of Malawi Lake Services. Maxon is also coducting experiments to determine how various sources of nutrients to the lake may alter the phososynthesis : respiration ratio.

M.V. Ilala

Ph.D. student, Maxon Ngochera