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Title: The Fate of Nutrients in Estuarine Plumes
Authors: Raine, R
Williams, P J leB
Keywords: INTERREG
Issue Date: Jan-2000
Publisher: Marine Institute
Citation: Raine, R. & Williams, P. J. leB., "The Fate of Nutrients in Estuarine Plumes", Maritime Ireland/Wales INTERREG Report, Marine Institute 2000
Series/Report no.: Maritime Ireland/Wales INTERREG Report;1
Abstract: Estuaries are highly biologically active zones lying between freshwater and marine systems. The classical view is that materials such as nitrates and phosphates which run into rivers as a result of man’s activity are used by the planktonic algae, or phytoplankton, for growth – in some cases causing nuisance blooms of these organisms. The management of the reduction of these blooms is based on the classical assumption that the materials stimulating them are brought into the estuary by the river, and that effective control of the blooms can be achieved by setting limits on the initial discharge of these materials into rivers. Funded under the EU INTERREG II (Ireland-Wales) programme, two groups of marine scientists from the University of Wales, Bangor and the National University of Ireland, Galway made a co-operative study of the Waterford (Ireland) and Conwy (Wales) estuaries. It was found that whereas the source of nitrogen for the estuarine phytoplankton was from the rivers, the main source of phosphate was from the sea. Phytoplankton blooms were being encouraged within the plume zone near the mouth of the estuaries, a region poised between a nitrate-rich freshwater and, relatively, phosphate-rich seawater. The management consequences of the findings are profound. Phosphates contribute significantly to the pollution of rivers and lakes, systems where there is usually an abundance of nitrogen and algal growth is governed by the availability of phosphorus. Management of these freshwater systems is thus achieved through control of the input of phosphates. Results achieved during the present study show that this criterion does not apply to estuaries and estuarine blooms, as material (phosphate) supporting them comes from the seawater end of the system and is therefore obviously unmanageable. The requirement to control nitrogen (nitrate) levels in estuaries is therefore all the more important in order to properly manage phytoplankton blooms, and thus water quality, in estuaries.
ISSN: 1393-9025
Appears in Collections:EU Collaborative Research

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