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A biogeochemical model for phosphorus and nitrogen cycling in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea : Part 2. Response of nutrient cycles and primary production to anthropogenic forcing: 1950-2000

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Powley, H. R., Krom, M. D., Emeis, K., & Cappellen, V. P. (2014). A biogeochemical model for phosphorus and nitrogen cycling in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea: Part 2. Response of nutrient cycles and primary production to anthropogenic forcing: 1950-2000. Journal of Marine Systems, 139, 420-432. doi:10.1016/j.jmarsys.2014.08.017.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0024-3033-1
Abstract
Anthropogenic inputs of nutrient phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea (EMS) increased significantly after 1950. Nonetheless, the EMS remained ultra-oligotrophic, with eutrophication only affecting a restricted number of nearshore areas. To better understand this apparent contradiction, we reconstructed the external inputs of reactive P and N to the EMS for the period 1950 to 2000. Although the inputs associated with atmospheric deposition and river discharge more than doubled, the inflow of surface water from the Western Mediterranean Sea (WMS) remained the dominant source of nutrient P and N to the EMS during the second half of the 20th century. The combined external input of reactive P rose by 24% from 1950 to 1985, followed by a slight decline. In contrast, the external reactive N input increased continuously from 1950 to 2000, with a 62% higher input in 2000 compared to 1950. When imposing the reconstructed inputs to the dynamic model of P and N cycling in the EMS developed in the companion paper, a maximum increase of primary production of only 16% is predicted. According to the model, integrated over the period 1950–2000, outflow of Levantine Intermediate Water (LIW) to the WMS exported the equivalent of about one third of the P supplied in excess of the 1950 input, while another one third was translocated to the Eastern Mediterranean Deep Water (EMDW). Together, both mechanisms efficiently counteracted enhanced P input to the EMS, by drawing nutrient P away from primary producers in the surface waters. Furthermore, between 1950 and 2000, inorganic and organic dissolved N:P ratios increased in all water masses. Thus, the EMS became even more P limited because of anthropogenic nutrient inputs. A model simulation incorporating the circulation changes accompanying the Eastern Mediterranean Transient (EMT) between 1987 and 2000 yielded a 4% increase of EMS primary productivity relative to the baseline scenario.