Water Oxygen Consumption Rather Than Sediment Oxygen Consumption Drives the Variation of Hypoxia on the East China Sea Shelf


Sediment oxygen consumption (SOC) is important in modulating the oxygen budget in the East China Sea where seasonal hypoxia occurs. Porewater advection, molecular diffusion and bioturbation supply oxygen for sedimentary organic matter degradation. A pelagic‒benthic coupled model was applied to quantify the SOC. A comparison with observations showed good model performance in reproducing the hydrographic and ecological environments, particularly for the interannual variation in the hypoxic zone. Simulation results show that porewater-advection-induced flux is the predominant component of the SOC in sandy areas on the Changjiang bank and outer shelves, while the bioturbation‒induced flux is predominant at mud depocenters. By comparing SOC to the water oxygen consumption (WOC) below the pycnocline, the contribution of SOC is generally below ∼40% in the hypoxic zone. The spatial distribution of SOC in summer is relatively steady from year to year, while the high WOC patches explain more about the interannual variation in the hypoxic zone. WOC rather than SOC drives the variation of hypoxia. Particularly on the Changjiang bank, milder hydrodynamics are favorable for both the higher WOC and bioturbation-induced benthic oxygen flux but substantially suppress the porewater advective flux, which results in the net lower contribution of SOC to hypoxia. This finding may shed light on other pelagic‒benthic coupling processes in coastal shelf seas where hypoxia occurs on permeable sediments.
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