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Northern Adriatic phytoplankton response to short Po River discharge pulses during summer stratified conditions



A 275-km-long transversel Northern Adriatic profile from the mouth of the Po River (Italian Adriatic coast) to the Kvarner region (Croatian coastal island area) was investigated in three successive case studies in August 2008, 2009 and 2010. The short Po River pulses in August result in the surface advection of riverine water, nutrients and phytoplankton from the western to the eastern side of the Adriatic. This surface spreading exhibits inter-annual variability depending on the riverine discharge in the preceding period. The Po River discharge pulse in August 2010 in particular resulted in an extraordinary tongue-like advection of riverine water, nutrients, and phytoplankton towards the Eastern Adriatic coast. The phenomenon was detected using both satellite imagery and classical oceanographic measurements. In the advective water, toxic dinoflagellates were most abundant in August 2010, when the influence of the Po was greatest.