The influence of episodic flooding on a pelagic ecosystem in the East China Sea
- 1Department of Life Science, National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei 116, Taiwan
- 2Institute of Marine Environment and Ecology, National Taiwan Ocean University, Keelung 20224, Taiwan
- 3Institute of Oceanography, National Taiwan University, Taipei 10617, Taiwan
- 4Research Center for Environmental Changes, Academia Sinica, Nankang Taipei 115, Taiwan
Abstract. This study was designed to determine the effects of flooding on a pelagic ecosystem in the East China Sea (ECS) with a focus on plankton activity and plankton community respiration (CR). In July 2010, a flood occurred in the Changjiang River. As a comparison, a variety of abiotic and biotic parameters were monitored during this flooding event and during a non-flooding period (July 2009). During the flood, the Changjiang diluted water (CDW) zone covered almost two-thirds of the ECS, which was approximately 6 times the area covered during the non-flooding period. The mean nitrate concentration was 3-fold higher during the 2010 flood (6.2 vs. 2.0 µM in 2009). CR was also higher in the 2010 flood: 105.6 mg C m−3 d−1 vs. only 73.2 mg C m−3 d−1 in 2009. The higher CR in 2010 could be attributed to phytoplankton respiration, especially at stations in the CDW zone that were not previously characterized by low sea surface salinity in 2009. In addition, zooplankton (> 330 µm) were another important component contributing to the high CR rate observed during the 2010 flood; this was a period also associated with a significant degree of fCO2 drawdown. These results collectively suggest that the 2010 flood had a significant effect on the carbon balance in the ECS. This effect might become more pronounced in the future, as extreme rainfall and flooding events are predicted to increase in both frequency and magnitude due to climate change.