Anthropogenic activities are driving an increase in sediment contamination in coastal areas. This poses significant challenges for the management of estuarine ecosystems and their adjacent seas worldwide. However, few studies have been conducted on how dynamic mechanisms affect the sediment toxicity in the estuarine environment. This study was designed to investigate the linkages between sediment toxicity and hydrodynamics in the Yangtze River Estuary (YRE) area. High sediment toxicity was found in the Yangtze River mouth (Region I), the depocenter of the Yangtze River Delta (Region II), and the southeastern area of the adjacent sea (Region III), while low sediment toxicity was found in the northeastern offshore region (Region IV). A spatial comparison analysis and regression model indicated that the distributed pattern of sediment toxicity was likely related to hydrodynamics and circumfluence in the East China Sea (ECS) shelf. Specifically, high sediment toxicity in Region I may be affected by the Yangtze River Pump (YRP) and the low hydrodynamics there, and high toxicity in Region II can be influenced by the low sediment dynamics and fine sediment in the depocenter. The high sediment toxicity in Region III might be related to the combination of the YRP and Taiwan Warm Current, while the low toxicity in Region IV may be influenced by the local coarse-grained relict sand with strong sediment dynamics there. The present research results further suggest that it is necessary to link hydrodynamics and the spatial behavior of sediment and sediment-derived pollutants when assessing the pollution status of estuarine environments, especially for those mega-estuaries and their neighboring ocean environments with complex waves, tides and ocean currents.
Environmental Pollution – Elsevier
Published: Feb 1, 2018
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