Reduced river discharge intensifies phytoplankton bloom in Godavari estuary, India
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Changes in river discharge alter material load and the consequent estuarine and coastal biogeochemical process. Evidence for biogeochemical response to variable rainfall over catchment area or changes in river discharges due to dam regulations is sparse. Inter-annual variability in monsoon rainfall and the consequent river discharges, either dam regulated or otherwise, in India are the best suited to test the influence of altered discharges on estuarine biogeochemistry. Our experiments in Godavari river estuary over three years revealed that a decrease in precipitation over the Indian subcontinent from 2007 to 2009 resulted in the lowering of mean annual discharge from 748.63m sup(3) s sup(-1) in 2007 to 218.40 sup(3) s sup(-1) in 2009. The reduced water discharge, during the peak discharge period, slowed the flushing of the estuary from 1.2 days to 6.3 days, respectively. The consequent increase in stability of water column and reduced suspended material load gave rise to intense phytoplankton blooms (Chl a 18 mu g l sup(-1) in 2007 to 28 mu g l sup(-1) in 2009). Resilience towards the unwanted phytoplankton bloom and overall health of the Indian estuaries is thus tuned by the variability in monsoon rainfall and dam regulated discharge.
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