“benthic coastal buffers against climatic and eutrophication extremes”

Climate change may exacerbate the impacts of eutrophication on coastal environments and affect their biodiversity, functioning, recreational and economic value. The synergic effects of climatic anomalies and eutrophication represent a new worldwide problem which is still poorly studied and requires to be urgently tackled.

The main aim of BUFFER project is to investigate the impact of the interaction between climatic anomalies and eutrophication on the capacity of the sediments to process and retain nutrients and contrast their regeneration to the water column (the buffer capacity). BUFFER analyses if and how the capacity of sediments to control eutrophication consequences is menaced by climate change and will disentangle underlying mechanisms.

BUFFER project work packages and workflow

The main study site of BUFFER is the Gulf of Gdańsk (southern Baltic Sea), as it has been threatened by the combined effects of climate change and eutrophication. Sampling campaigns will be carried out in two additional sites: the Goro Lagoon in Italy and the Kongsfjorden and Porsangerfjorden in Norway. Both sites are affected by high freshwater discharge, the former from the Po River and the latter from the ice melt from land, and both sites can encounter bottom water anoxia. The comparison among study areas will allow to understand whether the climate-eutrophication effects produce larger impacts in the northern as compared to southern latitudes.

Geographical location of the three study areas

In February 2022 two winter samplings have been carried out in the Gulf of Gdańsk (Poland) and in the Goro Lagoon (Italy). The aim of these activities is to analyze how sediments are buffered against anoxia, sulfides build up and the exhaustion of ferric iron (Fe3+) and manganic manganese (Mn4+) pools, that lead to P-mobility.

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In March 2022, a second sampling campaign has been carried out in the Gulf of Gdańsk with the aim of analyzing the capacity of sediments to mineralize particulate nitrogen to ammonium (NH4+), to oxidize it to NOx and to denitrify the produced NOx.

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