Annual hypoxia dynamics in an enclosed gulf

K. Kountoura, I. Zacharias
2012 Biogeosciences Discussions  
<p><strong>Abstract.</strong> Hypoxia in coastal environments is a worldwide problem and is expected to worsen in future. Due to the stratification of the water column in many enclosed or semi-enclosed gulfs, deep waters are isolated and hypoxic or anoxic conditions frequently become dominant. The most common method for the oxygenation of these isolated anoxic water masses is vertical mixing. However, there are enclosed gulfs which rarely have the appropriate energy to ensure the mixing of the
more » ... the mixing of the entire water column. The main purpose of this paper is to find if there are any other hydrodynamic processes which can cause oxygenation of deep waters, apart from vertical mixing. In order to achieve this aim, an enclosed gulf, Amvrakikos in Western Greece, was chosen to be the case study area and bimonthly physicochemical data were collected for one year and used in combination with a three-dimensional model in order to simulate the hydrodynamic circulation of the system. According to our results, another hydrodynamic process can lead to the oxygenation of the deepest water in an enclosed gulf. This process is the horizontal intrusion of well oxygenated water from the open sea. The key factor in determining the success of this horizontal intrusion is the density difference between the deepest area of the enclosed gulf and the open sea outside the gulf. From autumn to winter, when the open sea water is denser than that inside the gulf, the well oxygenated open sea water inflows into the gulf near the bottom sea floor and re-oxygenates the isolated deep waters through mixing. However, from spring to summer, when the deep water of the gulf is characterized by higher density in comparison with the open sea water, the inflow of well oxygenated water stops, causing the development of hypoxic/anoxic conditions during the summer months.</p>
doi:10.5194/bgd-9-5049-2012 fatcat:6bnxww2yi5h6rlv3zpwasdvqwy