The influence of river variability on the circulation, chemistry, and microbiology of the Delaware Estuary
Gravitational circulation of the Delaware Estuary is dominated by a single river, the Delaware River. The seasonal variation in river discharge is large. Consequently, the water column varies between vertically homogenous conditions found during most of the year and strongly stratified conditions found during the high flow of the spring freshet. Both the variation in river discharge and the extent of stratification affect chemical distributions and biological processes in the estuary. With a simple advection-diffusion model, we show that the apparent nonconservative behavior of nitrate in the Delaware Estuary can result from varying endmember concentration and varying river discharge. In addition, we illustrate the relationship between water column stratification, phytoplankton production, and concurrent bacterial activity. Finally, as an indirect chemical response to phytoplankton growth during high river discharge, we show strongly nonconservative patterns for ammonium, phosphate, and silicate in the estuary.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Sharp, J. H., L. A. Cifuentes, R. B. Coffin, J. R. Pennock, and K. C. Wong. 1986. The influence of river variability on the circulation, chemistry, and microbiology of the Delaware Estuary. Estuaries 9:261-269.