Initial Growth of Phytoplankton in Turbid Estuaries: A Simple Model

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Estuarine dynamics, Phytoplankton, Turbidity, Stability analysis


An idealised model is presented and analysed to gain more fundamental understanding about the dynamics of phytoplankton blooms in well-mixed, suspended sediment dominated estuaries. The model describes the behaviour of subtidal currents, suspended sediments, nutrients and phytoplankton in a channel geometry. The initial growth of phytoplankton and its spatial distribution is calculated by solving an eigenvalue problem. The growth rates depend on the position in the estuary due to along-estuary variations in nutrient concentration and suspended sediment concentration. The model yields an insight into how the onset of blooms in the model depends on physical and biological processes (turbulent mixing, fresh water discharge, light attenuation, imposed nutrient concentrations at the river and sea side). In particular, the model demonstrates that the joint action of spatial variations in turbidity and in nutrients causes the maximum phytoplankton concentrations to occur seaward of the estuarine turbidity maximum.


© 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.



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