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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-40
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-40
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 03 Mar 2020

Submitted as: research article | 03 Mar 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Drivers of the spatial phytoplankton gradient in estuarine-coastal systems: generic implications of a case study in a Dutch tidal bay

Long Jiang1,2, Theo Gerkema2, Jacco C. Kromkamp2, Daphne van der Wal2,3, Pedro Manuel Carrasco De La Cruz4, and Karline Soetaert2 Long Jiang et al.
  • 1College of Oceanography, Hohai University, Nanjing, China
  • 2NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Department of Estuarine and Delta Systems, and Utrecht University, P.O. Box 140, 4400 AC Yerseke, the Netherlands
  • 3Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC), University of Twente, P.O. Box 217, 7500 AE, Enschede, the Netherlands
  • 4NF-POGO Centre of Excellence, Alfred Wegener Institute, Kurpromenade 201, 27498 Helgoland, Germany

Abstract. As the primary energy and carbon source in aquatic food webs, phytoplankton generally display spatial heterogeneity due to the complicated biotic and abiotic controls, but our understanding of its causes is challenging as it involves multiple regulatory mechanisms. We applied a combination of field observation, numerical modeling, and remote sensing to display and interpret the spatial gradient of phytoplankton biomass in a Dutch tidal bay (the Oosterschelde) on the east coast of the North Sea. The 19-year (1995–2013) monitoring data reveal a seaward increasing trend in chlorophyll a concentrations during the spring bloom. Using a calibrated and validated three-dimensional hydrodynamic-biogeochemical model, two idealized model scenarios were run, switching off the suspension feeders and halving the open-boundary nutrient and phytoplankton loading. Results indicate that bivalve grazing exerts a dominant control on phytoplankton in the bay and that the tidal import mainly influences algal biomass near the mouth. Satellite data substantiate the roles of benthic grazing and tidal import. Based on a literature review, the spatial phytoplankton gradients in global estuarine-coastal ecosystems are classified into five types: seawards increasing, seawards decreasing, concave with a chlorophyll maximum, weak spatial gradients, and irregular patterns. We highlight the temporal variability of these spatial patterns and the importance of anthropogenic and climatic perturbations.

Long Jiang et al.

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Long Jiang et al.

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Short summary
A seaward increasing chlorophyll a gradient of is observed during the spring bloom in a Dutch tidal bay. Biophysical model runs indicate the roles of bivalve grazing and tidal import in shaping the gradient. Satellite data substantiate these findings. The spatial phytoplankton gradients in global estuarine-coastal ecosystems are classified into five types: seawards increasing, seawards decreasing, concave with a chlorophyll maximum, weak spatial gradients, and irregular patterns.
A seaward increasing chlorophyll a gradient of is observed during the spring bloom in a Dutch...
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