Phosphorus sorption dynamics in the Scheldt estuary

Abstract : Dissolved inorganic phosphorus is an essential element for living organisms. In aquatic environment, an excess of this nutrient can lead to eutrophication, causing a degradation of the water quality. Unlike dissolved nitrate, phosphorus adsorbs strongly but reversibly on many mineral particulate forms in soils and suspended solids in rivers. In soils, this process limits the leaching of soluble phosphorus as long as the adsorption sites are not saturated, which could be the case in heavily fertilized soils. Adsorption process is responsible for a significant, permanent or transient, retention of phosphorus by sedimentation of suspended matter in rivers and estuaries. However, phosphorus enriched in soils could also be released as these soil particles enter the aquatic realm, depending on its dissolved phosphate concentration. Adsorption and desorption processes play thus an important role in phosphorus cycling in both terrestrial and aquatic environments. The thesis project proposes to study the phosphorus sorption dynamics in the Scheldt estuary during mixing of freshwater with seawater. Adsorption/desorption experiments, using particulate matter from soils of the Scheldt watershed as well as the suspended matter of the Scheldt estuary, will be conducted and various controlling factors will be studied. The aim is to assess the ability of phosphorus adsorption on different types of soils and to quantify the absorption/desorption process of phosphorus during estuarine mixing.
Promoteur/Supervisor : Prof. CHOU Lei
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Centre de recherche/Research center : BGéoSys-Chemical Oceanography & Water Geoch
Faculté/Faculty : Faculté des Sciences/Faculty of Sciences
Ecole doctorale/Graduate Colleges : Sciences/Science
Ecole doctorale thématique/Graduate School (French Only): Sciences de l'univers, de l'espace, de la terre et du climat (UNITER)

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