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Possible effects of climate change on estuarine nutrient fluxes: a case study in the highly nutrified Schelde estuary (Belgium, The Netherlands)
Struyf, E.; Van Damme, S.; Meire, P. (2010). Possible effects of climate change on estuarine nutrient fluxes: a case study in the highly nutrified Schelde estuary (Belgium, The Netherlands), in: Van Damme, S. (2010). Water quality and the estuarine environment: Spatio temporal patterns and opportunities for restoration with emphasis on nitrogen removal = Waterkwaliteit en het estuarien milieu: Spatio-temporele patronen en mogelijkheden tot herstel met speciale aandacht voor stikstofverwijdering. pp. 71-92
In: Van Damme, S. (2010). Water quality and the estuarine environment: Spatio temporal patterns and opportunities for restoration with emphasis on nitrogen removal = Waterkwaliteit en het estuarien milieu: Spatio-temporele patronen en mogelijkheden tot herstel met speciale aandacht voor stikstofverwijdering. PhD Thesis. University Press Antwerp (UPA): Brussel. ISBN 978-90--5487-760-8. 186 pp., more

Also published as
  • Struyf, E.; Van Damme, S.; Meire, P. (2004). Possible effects of climate change on estuarine nutrient fluxes: a case study in the highly nutrified Schelde estuary (Belgium, The Netherlands). Est., Coast. and Shelf Sci. 60(4): 649-661. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2004.03.004, more

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Keywords
    Climate; Nutrient cycles; ANE, Netherlands, Schelde estuary [Marine Regions]; Brackish water; Fresh water
Author keywords
    estuary; climate-change; nitrogen; silica; hydrology; non-point pollution

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Abstract
    Global change models predict effects of climate change on hydrological regimes at the continental scale in Europe. The aim of this study was to gain a better understanding of the possible effect of changing external forcing conditions on the functioning of estuarine ecosystems. In densely populated areas, anthropogenic nutrient enrichment and consequent alteration of nutrient biogeochemical cycles have already had a big impact on these ecosystems. The average yearly discharge of the upper Schelde estuary increased nearly threefold over the period 1996–2000, from 28 m3 s-1 in 1996 to 73 m3 s-1 in 2000. The continuously rising discharge conditions over the five-year period were used as a reference situation for possible future effects of climate on ecological functioning through increase of discharge. At high discharges, nutrient (NH4+, NO3-, dissolved silica and PO43-) concentrations in the tidal fresh- and brackish water showed a decrease of up to 50% while total discharged nutrient loadings increased up to 100%. Opposite effects of increasing discharge on NH4+, NO3- and dissolved silica concentrations in summer and winter, resulted in the flattening out of seasonal cycles for these nutrients. Under high discharge conditions, silica uptake by diatom communities was lowered. Dissolved silica loadings to the coastal area increased concurrently with total silica loadings upstream. Salt intrusion to the marine parts of the estuary decreased. This resulted in a downstream shift of the salinity gradient, with lower salinity observed near the mouth. As a result, TDIN, NO3- and dissolved silica concentrations doubled at the mouth of the estuary.

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