A two-dimensional steady-state model of light-driven phytoplankton productivity and biomass in partially mixed estuaries has been developed. Effects of variations in river flow, suspended sediment concentration, phytoplankton sinking, self-shading and growth rates on distributions of phytoplankton biomass and productivity are investigated. Numerical simulation experiments show that biomass and productivity are particularly sensitive to variations in suspended sediment concentrations typical of natural river sources and to variations in loss rates assumed to be realistic but poorly known for real systems. Changes in the loss rate term within the range of empirical error (such as from dark bottle incubation experiments) cause phytoplankton biomass to change by a factor of two. In estuaries with adequate light penetration in the water column, it could be an advantage for phytoplankton to sink. Species that sink increase their concentration and form a phytoplankton maximum in a way similar to the formation of the estuarine turbidity maximum. When attenuation is severe, however, sinking species have more difficulty in maintaining their population. ?? 1984.
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Numerical Simulation of phytoplankton productivity in partially mixed estuaries