04 May 2022
04 May 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Effects of seasonal and diel variations in thermal stratification on phytoplankton in a regulated river

Eunsong Jung1, Gea-Jae Joo1, Hyo Gyeom Kim2, Dong-Kyun Kim3, and Hyun-Woo Kim4 Eunsong Jung et al.
  • 1Department of Integrated Biological Science, Pusan National University, Busan, 46241, Republic of Korea
  • 2The Fisheries Science Institute, Chonnam National University, Yeosu, 59626, Republic of Korea
  • 3K-water Institute, Daejeon 34350, Republic of Korea
  • 4Department of Environmental Education, Sunchon National University, Suncheon, 57922, Republic of Korea

Abstract. Thermal stratification in lotic systems has occurred globally and more frequently in recent decades due to global warming and artificial river modification, often with negative ecological effects. However, studies on river stratification have been restricted to rivers below dams or reservoirs affected by their water release and lacked examination of diel stratification and its impact on phytoplankton, in particular. In the present study, we assessed the degree of thermal stratification, its environmental drivers, and the response of water quality and phytoplankton assemblage against stratification in the mid-lower reach of the Nakdong River, whose morphology has been highly modified, including the construction of eight weirs. We implemented vertical temperature profiling at three study sites, both seasonally and diurnally. Then, we calculated three stratification indices: relative water column stability, Schmidt stability, and maximum temperature gradient. Three indices for assessing the degree of stratification showed that most sites experienced diel stratification during summer. Principal component analysis showed that stratification significantly led to seasonal and diel variations in the water environment. Solar radiation and air temperature were positive controllers, while a negative controller (in this case, the river flow rate) existed only for diel variation in the stratification. Higher abundance and surface cell accumulation of cyanobacteria Microcystis were observed at the stratified sites, and the diel variations in its biomass (chlorophyll a) in the surface water were primarily associated with the stratification indices instead of with other temperature and nutrient variables. Overall, the results suggest that the river has summer stratification, which is involved in amplifying cyanobacterial bloom intensity. Without a suppressing factor, summer stratification is expected to be recurrent in the river, and thus mitigating the developed stratification is needed by promptly regulating the river flow.

Eunsong Jung et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on bg-2022-42', Anonymous Referee #1, 10 Jun 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Eunsong Jung, 13 Sep 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on bg-2022-42', Anonymous Referee #2, 14 Aug 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Eunsong Jung, 14 Sep 2022

Eunsong Jung et al.

Eunsong Jung et al.


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Short summary
Thermal stratification in rivers has increased, often with negative ecological effects. We implemented vertical water sampling both seasonally and diurnally and then calculated three stratification indices in the Nakdong River after intensive river channel modification. The results suggest that the river has summer stratification, which is involved in amplifying cyanobacterial bloom intensity.