Deep-water inflow event increases sedimentary phosphorus release on a multi-year scale

Hylén, Astrid; van de Velde, Sebastiaan J.; Kononets, Mikhail; Luo, Mingyue; Almroth-Rosell, Elin; Hall, Per O. J.

Phosphorus fertilisation (eutrophication) is expanding oxygen depletion in coastal systems worldwide. Under low-oxygen bottom water conditions, phosphorus release from the sediment is elevated, which further stimulates primary production. It is commonly assumed that re-oxygenation could break this “vicious cycle” by increasing the sedimentary phosphorus retention. Recently, a deep-water inflow into the Baltic Sea created a natural in situ experiment that allowed us to investigate if temporary re-oxygenation stimulates sedimentary retention of dissolved inorganic phosphorus (DIP). Surprisingly, during this 3-year study, we observed a transient but considerable increase, rather than a decrease, in the sediment efflux of DIP and other dissolved biogenic compounds. This suggested that the oxygenated inflow elevated the organic matter degradation in the sediment, likely due to an increase in organic matter supply to the deeper basins, potentially combined with a transient stimulation of the mineralisation efficiency. As a result, the net sedimentary DIP release per minline-formula2 was 56 %–112 % higher over the years following the re-oxygenation than before. In contrast to previous assumptions, our results show that inflows of oxygenated water to anoxic bottom waters can increase the sedimentary phosphorus release.

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Hylén, Astrid / van de Velde, Sebastiaan J. / Kononets, Mikhail / et al: Deep-water inflow event increases sedimentary phosphorus release on a multi-year scale. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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