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Four decades of variability in turbidity in the western Wadden Sea as derived from corrected Secchi disk readings
Philippart, C.J.M.; Salama, M.S.; Kromkamp, J.C.; van der Woerd, H.J.; Zuur, A.F.; Cadee, G.C. (2013). Four decades of variability in turbidity in the western Wadden Sea as derived from corrected Secchi disk readings. J. Sea Res. 82: 67-79. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.seares.2012.07.005
In: Journal of Sea Research. Elsevier/Netherlands Institute for Sea Research: Amsterdam; Den Burg. ISSN 1385-1101, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Secchi disk; Turbidity; Seasonality; Long-term trend; Suspendedparticulate matter; Wadden Sea

Authors  Top 
  • Philippart, C.J.M., more
  • Salama, M.S.
  • Kromkamp, J.C., more
  • van der Woerd, H.J.
  • Zuur, A.F.
  • Cadee, G.C., more

Abstract
    The Wadden Sea has undergone many changes of which some (e.g., seagrass disappearance, dredging activities) are thought to have affected the concentrations of suspended particulate matter (SPM) in these waters. Results of previous analyses of long-term variation and trends in SPM are, however, possibly biased by the fact that the data underlying these trends were not corrected for methodological changes in time. In this paper we analyze the variability of Secchi disk measurements recorded at one location in the westernmost part of the Wadden Sea during almost four decades (from 1974 to 2010). The Secchi readings were corrected for varying environmental conditions (solar zenith angle, solar irradiance and sea surface conditions) at the time of observation and then converted to a turbidity proxy that measures the attenuation of light due to suspended and dissolved materials in the water column. We tested a series of hypotheses to describe the seasonal and long-term variations of this turbidity proxy. The best statistical model assumed one common seasonal pattern within the study period and a strong variation in turbidity over the years without any apparent long-term increase or decrease in time (n = 1361; r(2) = 0.53). In addition, we found that most of the turbidity variation in this part of the Wadden Sea can be described as a function of SPM, chlorophyll-a, salinity, water temperature, the filter type used for the SPM determinations, and a still unidentified seasonal factor (n = 401; r(2) = 0.88). Comparison with annual averaged ADCP-derived SPM concentrations as determined from a ferry sailing across the Marsdiep tidal inlet (1998-2008) showed that the variability in turbidity at the sampling station was indicative for the variation in light attenuation in the westernmost part of the Wadden Sea. Because the intensity of the underwater light-field affects primary productivity, this new and consistent information on long-term variation in turbidity is of profound importance to the assessment of long-term changes and underlying mechanisms of the carrying capacity of the Wadden Sea.

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