The Irish Sea: Is it eutrophic?

Gowen, R.J., Tett, P., Kennington, K., Mills, D.K., Shammon, T.M., Stewart, B.M., Greenwood, N., Flanagan, C., Devlin, M., and Wither, A. (2008) The Irish Sea: Is it eutrophic? Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science , 76 (2). pp. 239-254.

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Abstract

The question of whether the Irish Sea is eutrophic is addressed by reviewing the evidence for anthropogenic nutrient enrichment, elevated phytoplankton production and biomass and undesirable disturbance in the context of the EU and OSPAR definitions of eutrophication. Winter concentrations of dissolved available inorganic phosphate (DAIP), nitrogen (DAIN as nitrate and nitrite) and silicate (Si) in coastal waters and concentrations of DAIP and Si in offshore waters of the Irish Sea are elevated relative to winter Celtic Sea shelf break concentrations (0.5 μM DAIP, 7.7 μM DAIN and 2.7 μM Si). Significant, negative nutrient salinity relationships and analysis of the Isle of Man nutrient time-series indicate that the elevated Irish Sea levels of DAIP and DAIN are the result of anthropogenic enrichment with highest concentrations (≈2.0 μM DAIP, 30 μM DAIN and 17 μM Si) measured in near shore eastern Irish Sea waters.

Summer levels of phytoplankton chlorophyll (Chl) range from <0.1 to 11.4 mg m−3 (mean: 3.4 mg m−3) and from <0.1 to 16.4 mg m−3 (mean: 2.2 mg m−3) in coastal and offshore waters of the western Irish Sea, respectively. Offshore eastern Irish Sea summer chlorophyll levels range from 0.3 to 3.8 mg m−3 (mean: 1.8 mg m−3). Higher levels of spring (up to 43.9 mg m−3) and summer (up to 22.7 mg m−3) biomass in Liverpool Bay are attributed to nutrient enrichment. Estimates of spring and summer production in different regions of the Irish Sea are ≤194 g C m−2.

The absence of: (a) oxygen depletion in near shore and open waters of the Irish Sea (except the seasonally isolated western Irish Sea bottom water); (b) trends in the frequency of Phaeocystis spp. blooms and occurrence of toxin producing algae; and (c) changes in the dominant life form of pelagic primary producers, point to a lack of undesirable disturbance and hence argue against anthropogenic eutrophication in the Irish Sea. This conclusion is discussed in the context of future trends in anthropogenic nutrient inputs.

Item ID: 6295
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: eutrophication; Irish Sea; marine measurements; nutrient enrichment; nutrients; chlorophyll; phytoplankton; undesirable disturbance
ISSN: 1096-0015
Date Deposited: 21 Jan 2010 23:09
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0405 Oceanography > 040501 Biological Oceanography @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation > 960699 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation not elsewhere classified @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960508 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Mining Environments @ 50%
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