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Advanced modelling and research on eutrophication linking eutrophication and biological resources (AMORE II)

Research project EV/19 (Research action ev)

Persons :

Description :


As EU member and Contracting Party of the OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Northeast Atlantic, Belgium has obligation of taking measures to protect its maritime area against the adverse effects of eutrophication. Eutrophication in Belgian coastal waters results from transboundary (SW- Atlantic waters, Rhine) and local (IJzer, Scheldt) inputs of land-based nutrients (N, P, Si) and manifests as huge algal blooms (mainly the Haptophycea Phaeocystis) that impact the ecosystem function. Despite a nowadays 50% reduction of P loads compared to 1990 no ecosystem improvement is discernible. Increased understanding of the links between nutrient enrichment and ecosystem response is needed to guide the implementation of European regulations for the reduction of riverine nutrient loads to the North Sea.

Project description


AMORE-II research focus on establishing quantitative and qualitative links between nutrient enrichment, spreading of high-biomass algal blooms (Phaeocystis globosa but also the co-occurrent diatom Guinardia delicatula), presence of gelatinous zooplankton (the dinoflagellate Noctiluca Scintillans, the appendicularian Oïkoploira dioica) and impact on ecosystem function.
In support to government policy, the overall objective is to provide new ecological knowledge and an upgraded version of the existing ecological model (3D-MIRO&CO) to:

- predict the magnitude and geographical extent of undesirable Phaeocystis blooms in the Southern Bight of the North Sea in response to changing nutrient loads and climate conditions (North Atlantic Oscillation);

- trace the origin and fate of anthropogenic nutrients in the Belgian coastal zone distinguishing between in-flowing Atlantic waters, Scheldt, IJzer and Rhine river inputs, local pelagic and benthic recycling and the export to adjacent areas.


AMORE-II research methodology involves and combines the collection of historical and new field data, process-level experiments and numerical tools.
Laboratory and field experiments focus on mechanisms controlling the inception, magnitude and extent of blooms in the Southern Bight of the North Sea with particular attention to further understanding the:

- life strategy of Phaeocystis blooms based on the identification of overwintering forms and complete life cycle making use of high-resolution microscopic techniques and molecular probes;
- competitive strategy among algal blooming species (P. globosa, G. delicatula) and bacteria for P acquisition during bloom events based on culture work with pure freshly-isolated species making use of radio-tracer and immunofluorescence techniques;
- trophic role of gelatinous zooplankton based on quantitative and qualitative determination of key organisms and their diet and feeding function.

Numerical experimentation will provide an improved version of the existing 3D-MIRO&CO ecological model in order to increase its capability to predict bloom spreading in response to changes in land-based nutrients and short-term climatic variations. It includes the extension of the geographical domain, better resolution of forcing functions, upgrading of the biological MIRO code based on new experimental results and data assimilation, addition of a module describing carbon speciation and air-sea CO2 exchange. The validated model will be used to assess the impact of nutrient reduction policy on algal bloom mitigation taking into account contrasted meteorological conditions.

Interaction between the different partners

Experimental studies are under full responsibility of ULB-ESA and VUB-EKOL. Experiments in microbial ecology (nutrient competition and Phaeocystis life cycle) will be conducted by ULB-ESA with assistance of Observatoire Océanologique de Banuyls for electronic microscopy. Beside, ULB-ESA will have responsibility of maintenance of phytoplankton cultures and assist VUB-EKOL for experiments on gelatinous zooplankton. RBINS-MUMM will be in charge of upgrading and managing the numerical code of the ecological model 3D-MIRO&CO and will be responsible of upgrading the hydrodynamical model. ULB-ESA and Oregon State University will assist RBINS-MUMM for the optimised ecological parameterisation, interpretation of model simulations and formulation of scenarios for model exploitation. NIOO-CEME due to its recognised international expertise will provide the validated benthic diagenetic module while VUB-EKOL will assist in parameterisation of gelatinous zooplankton dynamics.
Frequent joint meetings of modellers and experimentalists are planned to secure relevance of biological parameterisation and evaluate the capability of the model to simulate ecological trends in the Belgian coastal zone.

Links with international programmes

AMORE contributes to objectives of IGPB- LOICZ (Land Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone) and GEOHAB/EUROHAB (Harmful Algal Blooms)

Expected results and products

Improved knowledge of the origin and determinism of Phaeocystis blooms in the Belgian coastal zone and their link with nutrient loads.

First estimate of the trophic status of gelatinous in Belgian waters and their link with algal blooms.

Optimised 3D ecosystem model of Belgian and adjacent waters (Southern North Sea, Eastern English Channel), suitable for application to eutrophication management (‘what-if?’ scenarios), scientific understanding of the ecosystem and, thanks to addition of carbon cycle dynamics, future global change applications.



ULB-ESA: Co-ordination, phytoplankton and bacterioplankton ecophysiology, ecosystem modelling
VUB-ECOL: Zooplankton ecology
IRSNB-MUMM: Modelling
NIOO-CEME: Benthic diagenesis modelling
Oregon State University: Inverse modelling and data assimilation
Observatoire Océanologique de Banuyls: phytoplankton taxonomy

Contact Information

Christiane Lancelot
Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)
Ecologie des Systèmes Aquatiques (ULB-ESA)
Campus de la Plaine, CP 221, Boulevard du Triomphe, B-1050 Brussels
Tel: +32 (0)2 650 59 88; Fax: +32 (0)2 650 59 93

Kevin Ruddick
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences - Management Unit of the North Sea Mathematical Models (RBINS-MUMM)
Gulledelle 100, B-1200 Brussels
Tel: +32 (0)2 773 21 31; Fax: +32 (0)2 770 69 72

Marie-Hermande Daro
Vrij Universiteit Brussel
Laboratorium voor Ecologie en Systematiek (VUB-ECOL)
Pleinlaan 2, B-1050 Brussels
Tel: +32 (0)2 629 34 06; Fax: +32 (0)2 629 34 03

Karline Soetaert
Netherlands Institute for Ecology - Centre for Estuarine and Coastal Research (NIOO-CEMO)
Korringaweg, 7, NL-4401 NT Yerseke
Tel: +31 (0)113 577 300; Fax: +31 (0)113 573 616

Yvette Spitz
Oregon State University
College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Corvallis
OR 97331, USA
Tel: +1 541 737 35 04; Fax: +1 541 737 20 64

Marie-Josèphe Chrétiennot-Dinet
Université P. & M. Curie, UMR-CNRS 7621 - Observatoire Océanologique de Banuyls
B.P. 44, F-66651 Banyuls-sur-mer
Tel: +33 (0)4 688 873 07; Fax: +33 (0)4 688 816 99

Users Committee

The Users Committee is composed of scientists active in research that is complementary to the expertise developed within AMORE, and who are involved in coastal eutrophication management.

Alain Ménesguen - Institut Français de Recherche pour l’Exploitation de la MER (IFREMER) - Centre de Brest - France
Wanda Zevenboom - RWS-North Sea Directorat - The Netherlands
George Pichot - Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences - Management Unit of the Mathematical Model of the North Sea
Jan Mees - VLaams Instituut voor de Zee (VLIZ)
Rudolf De Clerck - CLO-Department Zeevisserij
Magda Vincx - Gent University - Marine Biology

Documentation :

Advanced modeling and research on eutrophication (AMORE II) : final report  Lancelot, Christiane - Rousseau, Véronique - Gypens, Nathalie ... et al  Brussels : Belgian Science Policy, 2006 (SP1681)
[To download]  [To order

Bibliografic references :

Advanced Modelling and Research on Eutrophication (AMORE-II). Annual progress report, period : 01/02/2002-31/01/2003  ULB-ESA, NIOO-CEME, MUMM and VUB-EKOL Contrats de Recherche : EV/11/19, EV/36/19B, EV-ENZ-05, 2003 

AMORE-II administrative report no. 1.  MUMM  Activity report no. 1 (administrative) prepared for OSTC contract EV/36/19B,Ref. AMORE/0/GL/200301/AR#1, 2003 

Composition, assimilation and degradation of Phaeocystis-derived fatty acids in the North Sea  HAMM, C. E. AND V. ROUSSEAU. Journal of Sea Research. 50 (4), 2003 

Eutrophication and some European waters of restriced exchange  TETT, P. et al. (S. SCORY) In : Continental Shelf Research 23, 2003 

Meeting Report : Regional conference on the ecology and impact assessment of Phaeocystis blooms  LANCELOT, C. , GROBEN, R the Eastern Channel and Southern Bight of the North Sea, Oostende, Belgium, 2003/Nov 

Modelling the impact of the Scheldt and Rhine/Meuse plumes on the salinity distribution in Belgian waters (Southern North Sea)  LACROIX, G., K. RUDDICK, J. OZER and C. LANCELOT, Submitted tJournal of Sea Research. Submitted 2nd August 2002, revised version submitted 24 December 2003, 2003 

Study and modeling of eutrophication-related changes in coastal planktonic food-webs. A contribution of the AMORE (Advanced Modeling and Research on Eutrophication) Consortium  LANCELOT, C. et al  Final Report of Amore-I, 2003 

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