The effect of optical properties on Secchi depth and implications for eutrophication management
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Successful management of coastal environments requires reliable monitoring methods and indicators. Secchi depth and chlorophyll-a concentration (Chl-a) are used as indicators for the assessment of eutrophication, both within the European Commission’s Water Framework and Marine Strategy Directives and the Helsinki commission. Chl-a is a used as a proxy for phytoplankton biomass and Secchi depth is used as a measure of changes in Chl-a. However, Secchi depth is more closely correlated with the light climate, affecting for example benthic vegetation. The public strongly link Secchi depth to the perceived water quality. Due to its simple measurement method Secchi depth is included in many monitoring programmes, often with the longest available time-series. In optically complex waters, Secchi depth is influenced by other factors than Chl-a, such as coloured dissolved organic matter (CDOM) and suspended particulate matter (SPM). In this study we evaluate how much Chl-a, CDOM and inorganic SPM each contribute to the variations in Secchi depth. We collected in situ data from different Swedish coastal gradients in three regions, Bothnian Sea, Baltic proper and Skagerrak during 2010-2014. Two linear multiple regression models for each region, with Chl-a, CDOM and inorganic SPM as predictors, explained the Secchi depth well (R2adj=0.54/0.8 for the Bothnian Sea, R2adj=0.81/0.81 for the Baltic proper and R2adj=0.53/0.64 for the Skagerrak). The slope for inorganic SPM was not significant in all models, but still included in the models, as significant correlations were found, both with Secchi depth and between parameters. The follow-up analysis of the multiple regressions by commonality analyses showed differences between the regions in the unique and common effects of the variables to the variance of the R2adj for Secchi depth. In the Bothnian Sea the unique effects for Chl-a were relatively low, 6% and 20%. The highest unique effect were from CDOM (~46% in summer and 20% in spring), whereas inorganic SPM had no unique contribution in summer but in spring with ~6%. The common effects from CDOM and inorganic SPM were large (71% in spring and 42% in summer). In the Baltic proper the optical variables had a different effect on the Secchi depth, with the largest part from the common effects of all three parameters, explaining up to 42-45% of the variations. The largest unique effects were from inorganic SPM (24%) or from Chl-a (15%). The models in the Skagerrak showed another pattern with CDOM having a very high unique effect, 71% for one model and the almost equally to Chl-a in the other 26% (Chl-a 28%). The common effects between CDOM and Chl-a were also pronounced, ~21% and the inorganic SPM had the lowest effect. The models were used for applying the levels for the reference value and the threshold for good/moderate status for Chl-a within the EU directives. The results showed, that in optically complex waters, Secchi depth is not a sufficient indicator for eutrophication, or as a response to Chl-a changes. Differences in natural processes have an indirect effect on the optical components determining the Secchi depth. For example land and river run-off, resuspension, bottom substrate, hydrography and salinity may explain the differences seen between the regions. The natural coastal gradients in Secchi depth will influence the determination of reference conditions for other eutrophication indicators, such as the depth distribution of macro algae. Hence, setting targets for Secchi depth based on reducing Chl-a might in some cases have no or only limited effect.
Secchi depth, monitoring, CDOM, SPM, Chl-a, WFD, MSFD, HELCOM
Research subject Marine Ecology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-119714OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-119714DiVA: diva2:847983
FunderBaltic Ecosystem Adaptive Management (BEAM)Ecosystem dynamics in the Baltic Sea in a changing climate perspective - ECOCHANGESwedish National Space BoardSwedish Environmental Protection Agency