An integrated river basin-coast-sea modelling scenario for nitrogen management in coastal waters

Abstract

Linked river basin and coastal water models were applied to analyse the effects of an optimal nitrogen management scenario in the Oder/Odra river basin on water quality in the Oder (Szczecin) Lagoon and the Pomeranian Bay (Baltic Sea). This scenario would reduce nitrogen loads into the coastal waters by about 35%, a level which is similar to the load of the late 1960’s. During summer the primary production and algae biomass in the Oder estuary is limited by nitrogen, which makes a nitrogen management reasonable. The comparison of the late 1960’s and the mid 1990’s shows that an optimal nitrogen management has positive effects on coastal water quality and algae biomass. However, this realistic nitrogen reduction scenario would not ensure a good coastal water quality according to the European Water Framework Directive. A good water quality in the river will not be sufficient to ensure a good water quality in the lagoon. Nitrogen load reductions bear the risk of increased potentially toxic, blue-green algae blooms, especially in the Baltic coastal sea. However, to reach water quality improvements in lagoons and inner coastal waters, nitrogen cuts are necessary. A mere focus on phosphorus is not sufficient.

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Acknowledgements

The work has been supported by several projects during the last years: IKZM-Oder I, II & III (Federal Ministry for Education and Research; 03F0403A & 03F0465A), SPICOSA (European Commission, Integrated Project) and “Investigation on the quantity of diffuse entries in the rivers of the catchment area of the Odra and the Pomeranian Bay to develop decision facilities for an integrated approach on waters protection—Phase III” (UBA; 298 28 299). Data has kindly been supplied by the State Agency of Environment, Protection of Nature and Geology Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (LUNG) and the West Pomeranian Voivodeship Inspectorate in Szczecin (WIOS). Super-computing power has been provided by HLRN (Norddeutscher Verbund für Hoch-und Höchstleistungsrechnen). We thank the modelling group of the Baltic Sea Research Institute for providing support on the circulation model.

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Correspondence to G. Schernewski.

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Schernewski, G., Behrendt, H. & Neumann, T. An integrated river basin-coast-sea modelling scenario for nitrogen management in coastal waters. J Coast Conserv 12, 53–66 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11852-008-0035-6

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Keywords

  • Odra estuary
  • Szczecin lagoon
  • Baltic sea
  • Eutrophication
  • River load
  • Water quality
  • Nitrogen limitation
  • Reference conditions
  • Water framework directive