MEPS 252:35-50 (2003)  -  doi:10.3354/meps252035

Spatial and temporal resolution of carbon fluxes in a shallow coastal ecosystem, the Kattegat

Jacob Carstensen1,*, Daniel Conley1, Bärbel Müller-Karulis2

1Department of Marine Ecology, National Environmental Research Institute, PO Box 358, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark
2University of Latvia, 6 Daugavgrivas St., 1007 Riga, Latvia

ABSTRACT: Spatial and temporal variations in pelagic carbon fluxes were examined by means of a large-scale and long-term monitoring data set from the Kattegat, a shallow marginal sea impacted by man-induced eutrophication. Flows of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus in the upper mixed layer (0 to 10 m) were estimated from a simple descriptive model using measurements of primary production, temperature, and phytoplankton/zooplankton biomass as input variables. For all years combined, annual primary production at coastal stations (171 gC m-2 yr-1; 8 stations) was almost twice that at the deeper open-water stations (105 gC m-2 yr-1; 5 stations), which resulted in an annual primary production of 116 gC m-2 yr-1 for the region as a whole during the entire study period (1989 to 1997). Interannual variation in primary production was substantially smaller than the between-station variation. The phytoplankton spring bloom contributed substantially to annual production (10 to 20%), but the magnitude and timing were highly variable between years. Respiration accounted for on average 12% of the measured primary production. Annual sedimentation was estimated at 55 gC m-2 yr-1, equivalent to 54% of net primary production. The estimated new production was significantly related to nitrogen loading from the land and atmosphere, and a regression analysis predicted declines of between 20 and 47% in annual net primary production from a 50% reduction in nitrogen loading. Carbon and nutrient fluxes are consistent with those of earlier studies from the Kattegat based on small-scale and short-term data sets. However, combining monitoring data with a budget model greatly improved data resolution in both time and space. Estimated C/N/P fluxes from the model can act as reliable indicators for assessing the state of eutrophication in the Kattegat and other inland seas impacted by man-induced nutrient loading.

KEY WORDS: Primary production · Respiration · Sedimentation · Budget models · Monitoring data · Eutrophication · Kattegat

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