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Bio-feedbacks on sediment transport in estuaries and coast: the neglected role of phytoplankton dynamics.

The Scheldt estuary is significantly changing due to both climate change and human interventions, like fairway deepening, harbor expansion, etc. Recent monitoring results show a strong increase in turbidity and therefore the fear the system will evolve into a hyper turbid system arises. Since light availability is essential for algae growth, the foundation of the food chain, the evolution to a hyper turbid system can have a drastic impact on all life in the estuary. This worrying increase in turbidity in combination with strong (European) legislation regarding the (ecological) functioning of the Scheldt estuary results in an urgent and strong demand for insight and tools to understand and predict the impact of climate change and (future) human interventions on turbidity and algae growth. Feedback processes between turbidity and algae need explicitly to be taken into account. Therefore the proposal's aim is to study: 1. The impact of turbidity and sediment transport on algae growth 2. Conversely, the impact of algae growth on turbidity and sediment transport. I hypothesize that a sticky substance produced by algae can cause the sediment to flocculate which might have a significant impact on turbidity patterns This proposal will finally result in: 1. Further development of a recent technique to estimate in situ algae growth towards a cost efficient real time monitoring tool 2. A state of the art estuarine model coupling sediment transport and hydrodynamics with algae growth
Date:1 Jan 2018  →  Today