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Biophysical flocculation of suspended particulate matters in Belgian coastal zones
Shen, X.; Toorman, E.; Lee, B.J.; Fettweis, M. (2018). Biophysical flocculation of suspended particulate matters in Belgian coastal zones. J. Hydrol. (Amst.) 567: 238-252. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2018.10.028
In: Journal of Hydrology. Elsevier: Tokyo; Oxford; New York; Lausanne; Shannon; Amsterdam. ISSN 0022-1694; e-ISSN 1879-2707, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Population balance model; Flocculation; Floc size distribution; Biofilmgrowth; Suspended particulate matter; Belgian coast

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    The Floc Size Distributions (FSDs) of biomineral suspended particles are of great importance to understand the dynamics of bio-mediated Suspended Particulate Matters (SPMs). Field observations were investigated at Station MOW1 in Belgian coastal waters (southern North Sea) during two typical periods with abundant and reduced biomass. In addition, the Shen et al. (2018) [Water Res. Vol 145, pp 473-486] multi-class population balance flocculation model was extended to address the occurrence of suspended microflocs, macroflocs and megaflocs during these contrasting periods. The microflocs are treated as elementary particles that constitute macroflocs or megaflocs. The FSD is represented by the size and mass fraction of each particle group, which corresponds to a temporal and spatial varying mass weighted settling velocity. The representative sizes of macroflocs and megaflocs are unfixed and migrated between classes mainly due to the effects of turbulent shear, differential settling and biofilm growth. The growth of an aggregate because of bio-activities is allotted to each elementary particle. It is further hypothesized that the growth kinetics of biomineral particles due to biofllm coating follows the logistic equation. This simple bio-flocculation model has been successfully coupled in the open source TELEMAC modeling system with five passive tracers in a quasi-1D vertical case. Within an intra-tide scale, the settling velocity (w(s)) is large during slack tides while it is small during maximum current velocities because of variations in turbulence intensities. Nonetheless, the w(s), may be largely underestimated when the biological effect is neglected. For a seasonal pattern, the ws, is higher in biomass-rich periods in May than in biomass-poor periods in October. While the mean sizes of megaflocs are close during the two periods, the macroflocs during algae bloom periods are more abundant with a larger mean size. This study enhances our knowledge on the dynamics of SPMs, especially the biophysical influences on the fate and transport of estuarine aggregates.

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