Modeling the Impact of Extreme River Discharge on the Nutrient Dynamics and Dissolved Oxygen in Two Adjacent Estuaries (Portugal)
Journal of Marine Science and Engineering
The Minho and Lima are adjacent estuaries located in the north of Portugal, with high ecological and economic importance. To address gaps in knowledge about changes in nutrient patterns in adjacent estuaries subject to different freshwater inflows, a numerical model, Delft3D, was implemented and developed, using a single domain, which allowed physical communication between estuaries. Calibration and validation of the model was successfully performed. Three numerical simulations were carried
... ns were carried out, in which only river flows were varied (1st corresponds to a baseline numerical run, the 2nd a flood scenario, and the 3rd a drought scenario). Under flooding conditions, similar patterns were verified in both estuaries, with high fluvial discharges showing to have a reduced impact on both estuarine dynamics. In this case the nutrients were not a limiting factor for the biota, both for summer and winter seasons, since there was no significant decrease in dissolved oxygen concentration. For the drought scenario, it was observed that the estuary with the lower inflow of freshwater (Lima) was the most affected, with a significant decrease in the concentration of nutrients and oxygen dissolved in the winter season (decrease of 2 mg O2/L). In conclusion, this work reveals that it is essential to continuously monitor dam-controlled estuarine systems, as a significant decrease in river discharge will cause significant changes in the variables analysed (O2, PO4, and NO3) and may cause loss of biodiversity.