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Coupled Effects of Small-Scale Turbulence and Phytoplankton Biomass in a Small Stratified Lake

By Miki Hondzo and Tanya A. Warnaars


Recent laboratory studies demonstrated that small-scale fluid motion mediates phytoplankton physiological responses. We have investigated to what extent the laboratory studies are consistent to field measurements in a small stratified lake. We propose the rate of energy dissipation and corresponding Kolmogorov velocity are important scaling variables that describe the enhanced algal growth and the uptake of nutrients in a moving fluid under laboratory and field conditions. The ratio of nutrient flux to an alga in a moving fluid versus the nutrient flux in a stagnant fluid (Sherwood number) is quantified by the ratio of advective nutrient transport to molecular diffusion of nutrient (Péclet number, PeK). The advective transport of nutrients is described by the layer-averaged Kolmogorov velocity (u˜K). An enhanced algal growth due to fluid motion is proposed over the Péclet number range 6.7>PeK>1.3 with the maximal growth at PeK=2.9. Field measurements recorded by microstructure profiler demonstrated encouraging agreement between laboratory and field findings. The mechanistic models of phytoplankton population dynamics could consider the proposed Péclet number with redefined characteristic velocity scale (u˜K) in the formulation of sub-grid scale closure fluxes on nutrient uptake and growth rate. Furthermore, the laboratory and field results presented in this study are intend to motivate researchers to question the validity of standard laboratory bio-toxicity protocols and to modify the existing procedures in the examination of effluent toxicity in the environment by including the fluid motion

Topics: Ecology and Environment, Earth Sciences
Publisher: ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers)
Year: 2008
DOI identifier: 10.1061/(ASCE)0733-9372(2008)134:12(954)
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