Modelling the effect of atmospheric nitrogen deposition on marine phytoplankton in the Singapore Strait

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Atmospheric deposition is an important source of nutrients to the ocean, potentially stimulating primary production, but its relative effect on coastal eutrophication remains largely unknown. This paper presents data generated by the 3-D modelling program NEUTRO to assess the proportion of atmospheric nutrient fluxes, allowing a quantification of the relative contribution of atmospheric and ocean fluxes in the Singapore Strait. This work included an assessment of the importance of high concentration episodic inputs of nitrate-nitrogen associated with transport of polluted air onto the surface water. The NEUTRO model features a nutrient-fuelled food web composed of nutrients, plankton, and dissolved oxygen dynamics. Model simulations show that atmospheric deposition fluxes alone might contribute nitrate-nitrogen mass up to 15% into the Singapore Strait. This amount might be a significant contributor toward regional eutrophication when the system is under nutrient-depleted conditions. Model calibrations for temporal and spatial variability of nutrients qualitatively and quantitatively agreed with available measurements.

Keywords: atmospheric depositions, eutrophication, nutrients fluxes, Singapore Strait, water quality model

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