Dissolved organic carbon in the freshwater tidal reaches of the Schelde estuary

Koenraad Muylaert, L. Dasseville, Loreto De Brabandere, Frank Dehairs, Wim Vyverman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

To unravel the factors that regulate DOC dynamics in the freshwater tidal reaches of the Schelde estuary, DOC concentration
and biodegradability were monitored in the upper Schelde estuary and its major tributaries. Although the Schelde estuary possesses
a densely populated and industrialized catchment, our data suggest that the bulk of DOC in the freshwater tidal reaches is not
derived from waste water. This was concluded from the low biodegradability of DOC (on average 9%), DOC concentrations that
are close to the mean for European rivers (4.61 mg l1) and the absence of an inverse relationship between DOC and discharge.
Most DOC originating from waste water being discharged in tributaries of the estuary appears to be remineralised before these
tributaries reach the main estuary. Although dense phytoplankton blooms were observed in the upper estuary during summer (up to
700 mg chl a l1), these blooms did not appear to produce large quantities of DOC in the freshwater tidal reaches as DOC
concentrations were low when phytoplankton biomass was high. The fact that DOC concentrations were high in winter and
decreased in summer suggests a predominantly terrestrial source of DOC in the freshwater tidal reaches of the Schelde estuary.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)591-600
Number of pages10
JournalEstuarine Coastal & Shelf Science 64
Issue number64
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Bibliographical note

Estuarine Coastal & Shelf Science

Keywords

  • dissolved organic carbon; DOC;
  • freshwater tidal reaches;
  • Schelde or Scheldt estuary;
  • waste water; phytoplankton

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