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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.; Wither, A.. 2008 The Irish Sea: Is it eutrophic? Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 76 (2). 239-254. 10.1016/j.ecss.2007.07.005

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Abstract/Summary

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 Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1016/j.ecss.2007.07.005
Programmes: POL Programmes
ISSN: 02727714
NORA Subject Terms: Marine Sciences
Date made live: 22 Aug 2012 09:34
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/19329

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