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Water -- Dissolved oxygen, Estuaries -- Water quality, Estuaries -- Turbidity -- Mathematical models


The sensitivity of oxygen depletion in turbid estuaries to parameters like freshwater discharge, depth, and sediment availability is investigated using an idealized model. The model describes tidally averaged circulation and suspended sediment concentration (SSC), which are input into an advection–diffusion sink module of dissolved oxygen (DO). Based on the analysis of field data collected in the Ems estuary, the modeled oxygen depletion rates are proportional to SSC. The model is calibrated to the observed variation of DO with SSC and temperature. Modeled DO closely tracks changes to the estuarine turbidity zone (ETZ): increased channel depth, decreased freshwater discharge, and decreased mixing move the ETZ upstream, amplify SSCs, and decrease DO. Summertime temperatures produce lower DO than cooler periods. Model results are consistent with historical measurements in the Ems, which indicate that hypoxic events (DO concentrations < 2 mg l−1) have occurred more frequently after deepening from 5 to 7 m.


this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Estuaries and Coasts. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Estuaries and Coasts, July 2009, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 602-620. The final publication is available at

This manuscript includes responses to reviewer comments and a reply to the editor.



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