High-latitude lakes are usually transparent, due to their low productivity and low concentration of dissolved organic matter (DOM), but large variations in lake optical properties can be found within and between regions. We investigated the light regimes in relation to DOM in 18 oligotrophic, high-latitude lakes across mountain birch woodland, shrub tundra and barren tundra in north-west Finnish Lapland. In 12 lakes >1% of photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) reached the lake bottom, while 1% UV-B depth ranged from 0.1 to >12 m. Lakes located in barren tundra had highest transparency, lowest dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentration and lowest DOM absorption (a440) (mean values: Kd PAR 0.3m-1, DOC 2.1mg l-1, a440 0.4m-1), while lakes in shrub tundra and mountain birch forest were less transparent (DOC 4.7 mg l-1, a440 1.4 m-1). Solar attenuation and lake transparency was best explained by a440. Our survey emphasizes the importance of catchment type on DOM characteristics and lake optics. We predict that even small changes in DOM quality may largely change the UV radiation exposure of lakes while changes in PAR may have smaller biological effects in these shallow lakes that are already illuminated to the bottom.
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Vol. 22 • No. 1