Spatio-temporal variation in physicochemical properties of coastal waters off Kalpakkam, southeast coast of India, during summer, pre-monsoon and post-monsoon period

Kamala Kanta Satpathy, Ajit Kumar Mohanty, Gouri Sahu, S Sarguru, Santosh Kumar Sarkar, Usha Natesan
Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 2011, 180 (1): 41-62
Seasonal observations on water-quality parameters and chlorophyll-a in the coastal waters off Kalpakkam, southeast coast of India, was carried out covering an area of about 30 km(2) to find out the variations in physicochemical properties during a monsoonal cycle of the year. Most of the parameters exhibited a significant spatial and seasonal variation. It revealed that the coastal water was significantly influenced by freshwater input from the nearby backwaters during North-east monsoon and post-monsoon periods. A marginal increase in pH from coast towards offshore was noticed during the observation. Relatively low salinity values were observed during pre and post monsoon when compared to summer. Bottom water was found to be highly turbid during summer and pre-monsoon conditions when compared to surface. This could be attributed to the strong northerly wind and northward current prior to the onset of southwest monsoon. N, P and Si based nutrients are relatively high in their concentration in the bottom water. Nitrate was significantly high during post-monsoon and contributed greatly towards total nitrogen as evident from the statistical correlation. Ammonia concentration was relatively high in the bottom samples during all the seasons except on a few occasions during post-monsoon. In general, phosphate and total phosphorous values remained low and particularly so in the surface water. Higher silicate concentration was observed in the bottom water, and there was a reducing trend towards offshore. High chlorophyll-a values were observed during summer and surface water was found to have higher pigment concentrations as compared to the bottom. Results show that phosphate acts as the limiting factor for phytoplankton production particularly during post-monsoon period whereas; none of the nutrients were found to be limiting the phytoplankton growth during other seasons.

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