Estuarine and coastal processes; biogeomorphology of coastal wetlands; physical oceanography
Abiotic and biotic sediment dynamics along estuarine-marine gradients in times of global change (ABioGrad).
AbstractWithin the framework of the FED-tWIN program for sustainable research cooperation between the federal scientific institutes and the universities, supported by the Belgian Institute for Science Policy (BELSPO), the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (Operational Directorate Natural Environment) and the University of Antwerp (Department of Biology, ecosystem management research group) wish to develop new research for the interactions of estuarine and marine ecosystems. The project AbioGrad focuses on the interaction and feedback between biological, biogeochemical and sedimentological processes using in situ data and numerical modelling, more specifically on the behaviour of suspended particulate matter (SPM) and associated organic matter and biota. A steady supply of sediments and associated organic matter is needed for mud flats, tidal marshes and banks to cope with sea level rise and maintain their spatial extent, while it also determines the rate of carbon sequestration through precipitation in estuarine and marine sediments. Human interventions largely determine the SPM concentrations, either directly through dredging and dumping, or indirectly through influencing the hydrodynamics. SPM determines the light penetration in the water column and thus photosynthesis. Changes in SPM concentration and composition are therefore among the most important effects of human intervention on the functioning of ecosystems. A good understanding of particle dynamics, of the interaction with biogeochemistry and possibly with biota, of past changes in SPM dynamics and the existence of well adapted monitoring and observation strategies are crucial to successfully ensure further coastal and estuarine developments.
- Promoter: Temmerman Stijn
- Fellow: Belliard Jean-Philippe
- Research Project