In the tidal Potomac River, high river discharges during the spring are associated with high chlorophyll a concentrations in the following in the following summer, assuming that summertime light and temperature conditions are favorable. Spring floods deliver large loads of particulate N and P to the tidal river. This particulate N and P could be mineralized by bacteria to inorganic N and P and released to the water column where it is available for phytoplankton use during summertime. However, during the study period relatively low concentrations of chlorophyll a (less than 50 ??g l-1 occurred in the tidal river if average monthly discharge during July or August exceeded 200 m3s-1. Discharge and other conditions combined to produce conditions favorable for nuisance levels of chlorophyll a (greater than 100 ??g l-1 approximately one year out of four. Chlorophyll a maxima occurred in the Potomac River transition zone and estuary during late winter (dinoflagellates) and spring (diatoms). Typical seasonal peak concentrations were achieved at discharges as high as 970 m3 s-1, but sustained discharges greater than 1,100 m3 s-1 retarded development. Optimum growth conditions occurred following runoff events of 10 to 15 d duration which produced transit times to the transition zone of 7 to 10 d. Wet years with numerous moderate-sized runoff events, such as 1980, tend to produce greater biomass in the transition zone and estuary than do dry years such as 1981. ?? 1986 Estuarine Research Federation.
Additional publication details
Effect of discharge on the chlorophyll a distribution in the tidally-influenced Potomac River