Dissolved oxygen in contrasting estuaries of the Bay of Biscay: effects of temperature, river discharge and chlorophyll a
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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The effects of environmental factors on variations of dissolved oxygen (DO) saturation was assessed in 2 estuaries (Bilbao and Urdaibai) in the Bay of Biscay with contrasting hydrography and anthropogenic impact, for the period 1997 to 2006, using generalised additive models (GAMs) and generalised additive mixed models (GAMMs). Spatial and temporal variations in DO saturation and the current severity and extent of hypoxia were higher in the culturally eutrophicated and stratified Bilbao estuary. Seasonal patterns of DO saturation and the hierarchy of factors controlling them differed both between estuaries and between salinity zones. In the inner Bilbao estuary, the main factor explaining DO-saturation variations was temperature, with a dominant effect on oxygen consumption processes. In contrast, in the outer Bilbao estuary, the main factor explaining DO-saturation variations was chlorophyll a, suggesting that the effect of oxygen production through photosynthesis was stronger than that of oxygen consumption. In the inner Urdaibai estuary, both a negative relationship with temperature and a positive relationship with chlorophyll a were detected. The outer Urdaibai estuary showed strong water-column mixing and very high tidal flushing, and ventilation processes were more important than oxygen production or consumption processes. River discharge affected DO saturation only at the inner waters, but when the effects of several variables on DO-saturation variability were tested in an additive model, river discharge was excluded from the models. The effects of temperature-dependent processes on DO-saturation dynamics decreased from the inner to the outer zones of both estuaries.