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Modeling eutrophication and oligotrophication of shallow-water marine systems: the importance of sediments under stratified and well-mixed conditions
Soetaert, K.; Middelburg, J.J. (2009). Modeling eutrophication and oligotrophication of shallow-water marine systems: the importance of sediments under stratified and well-mixed conditions. Hydrobiologia 629(1): 239-254. dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10750-009-9777-x
In: Hydrobiologia. Springer: The Hague. ISSN 0018-8158, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 
    VLIZ: Open Repository 217044 [ OMA ]

Keywords
    Denitrification; Eutrophication; Models; Nitrogen cycle; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Soetaert, K., more
  • Middelburg, J.J., more

Abstract
    A one-dimensional model that couples water-column physics with pelagic and benthic biogeochemistry in a 50-m-deep water column is used to demonstrate the importance of the sediment in the functioning of shallow systems, the eutrophication status of the system, and the system’s resilience to oligotrophication. Two physical scenarios, a well-mixed and a stratified water column, are considered and both are run along a gradient of increasing initial pelagic-dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) concentration. Where the mixed layer extends to the bottom, more nutrients and less light are available for growth. Under low to moderately eutrophic conditions (pelagic DIN <30 mmol m−3), this leads to higher productivity in well-mixed waters, while the stratified system is more productive under highly eutrophic conditions. Under stratification, the build-up of nitrate and depletion of oxygen below the mixed layer does not notably change the functioning of the sediment as a sink for reactive nitrogen. In sediments underlying well-mixed waters, sedimentary denitrification, fueled mainly by in situ nitrification, is slightly more important (8–15% of total benthic mineralization) than under stratified waters (7–20%), where the influx of bottom-water nitrate is the most important nitrate source. As a consequence of this less efficient removal of reactive nitrogen, the winter DIN concentrations are higher in the stratified scenario. The model is used to estimate the long-term benefits of nutrient reduction scenarios and the timeframe under which the new steady-state condition is approached. It is shown that a 50% reduction in external nitrogen inputs ultimately results in a reduction of 60–70% of the original pelagic DIN concentration. However, as the efflux of nitrogen from the sediment compensates part of the losses in the water column, system oligotrophication is a slow process: after 20 years of reduced inputs, the pelagic DIN concentrations still remain 2.7 mmol m−3 (mixed) and 3.9 mmol m−3 (stratified) above the ultimate DIN concentrations.

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