In order to investigate the historical water quality state and identify the factors causing modern environmental degradation in a prairie lake, total organic carbon (TOC), total nitrogen (TN), stable carbon isotopes of organic matter and total phosphorus (TP) from lake sedimentary core with high resolution age frame were analyzed. The results show that the values of proxies (TOC, TN, TP, δ13C, C/N) increased significantly after 2000 compared with before, which indicates Lake Hulun has heightened nutrient level and pollution extent, thus induced growth of algal bloom and water quality deteriorated after 2000. Since the event of decreased river discharge and lowered water level began in 2000 corresponds extremely well with our sedimentary records that nutrients pollution and eutrophication occurred in Lake Hulun at the same moment, the change of river discharge can be seen as the primary and direct reason of lake water quality deterioration in this period. In addition, the increased wind and water erosion as a result of serious and widespread destruction of grassland in Lake Hulun basin is the potential factors for changing the nutrients concentration in Lake Hulun.

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