Implications of eutrophication for biogeochemical processes in the Three Gorges Reservoir, China

Research paper by Xiangbin Ran, Alexander F. Bouwman, Zhigang Yu, Jun Liu

Indexed on: 14 Jul '18Published on: 14 Jul '18Published in: Regional Environmental Change


Although the Three Gorges Reservoir (TGR) is the largest man-made lake in the Changjiang River, it traps only a small fraction of the nitrogen (N) and dissolved silicate (DSi) inflows. Internal dissolution processes of exogenous biogenic silica (BSi) to DSi within TGR may control the overall silica (Si) retention, while the primary diatom production plays a minor role in DSi removal. Transformations of reactive N caused an increase of the dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) load by 3% during transport through the TGR, while retention of dissolved inorganic phosphorus (DIP) is enhanced by biological production. As a result, the TGR causes an increase of the molar DIN/DSi, DSi/DIP, and DIN/DIP ratios, and a decrease of DIN/RSi (reactive Si, the sum of DSi and BSi), leading to an enhanced phosphorus limitation downstream of the TGR. The overall impact of the changing stoichiometry as expressed by the Index for Coastal Eutrophication Potential (ICEP) is an excess production of 27 Tg C/year of non-diatom, potentially harmful phytoplankton. More intensive monitoring is thus needed to better understand the biogeochemical processes in the TGR and to support policy development aimed at improving the water quality in the Changjiang River.