Regular ArticlesTrophic Status of the South-Eastern Baltic Sea: A Comparison of Coastal and Open Areas
Review articleOpen access

AbstractPrimary production, nutrient concentrations, phytoplankton biomass (incl. chlorophyll a) and water transparency (Secchi depth), are important indicators of eutrophication. Earlier basin-wide primary production estimates for the Baltic Sea, a shallow shelf sea, were based mainly on open-sea data, neglecting the fundamentally different conditions in the large river plumes, which might have substantially higher production. Mean values of the period 1993–1997 of nutrient concentrations (phosphate, nitrate, ammonium and silicate), phytoplankton biomass, chlorophyll a (chl a) concentration, turbidity and primary production were calculated in the plumes of the rivers Oder, Vistula and Daugava and Klaipeda Strait as well as the open waters of the Arkona Sea, Bornholm Sea, eastern Gotland Sea and the Gulf of Riga. In the plumes, these values, except for primary production, were significantly higher than in the open waters. N:P ratios in the plumes were >16 (with some exceptions in summer and autumn), indicating potential P-limitation of phytoplankton growth, whereas they were <16 in the open Baltic Proper, indicating potential N-limitation. On the basis of in situ phytoplankton primary production, phytoplankton biomass and nutrient concentrations, the large river plumes and the Gulf of Riga could be characterized as eutrophic and the outer parts of the coastal waters and the open sea as mesotrophic. Using salinity to define the border of the plumes, their mean extension was calculated by means of a circulation model. Taking into account the contribution of coastal waters, the primary production in the Baltic Proper and the Gulf of Riga was 42·6 and 4·3×106 t C yr−1, respectively. Hence, an annual phytoplankton primary production in the whole Baltic Sea was estimated at 62×106 t C yr−1. The separate consideration of the plumes had only a minor effect on the estimation of total primary production in comparison with an estimate based on open sea data only. There is evidence for a doubling of primary production in the last two decades. Moreover, a replacement of diatoms by dinoflagellates during the spring bloom was noticed in the open sea but not in the coastal waters. A scheme for trophic classification of the Baltic Sea, based on phytoplankton primary production and biomass, chl a and nutrient concentrations, is proposed.

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