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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 19 Aug 2019

Submitted as: research article | 19 Aug 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Understanding coastal wetland conditions and futures by closing their hydrologic balance: the case of Gialova lagoon, Greece

Stefano Manzoni1,2, Giorgos Maneas1,3, Anna Scaini1,2, Basil E. Psiloglou4, Georgia Destouni1,2, and Steve W. Lyon1,2,5 Stefano Manzoni et al.
  • 1Department of Physical Geography, Stockholm University, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
  • 2Bolin Centre for Climate Research, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
  • 3Navarino Environmental Observatory, 24001, Messinia, Greece
  • 4Institute for Environmental Research & Sustainable Development, National Observatory of Athens, 15236, Athens, Greece
  • 5The Nature Conservancy, 08314 Delmont, USA

Abstract. Coastal wetlands and lagoons are under pressure due to competing demands for freshwater resources and climatic changes, which may increase salinity and cause loss of ecological functions. These pressures are particularly high in Mediterranean regions with high evaporative demand compared to precipitation. To manage such wetlands and maximize their provision of ecosystem services, their hydrologic balance must be quantified. However, multiple channels, diffuse surface water exchanges, and diverse groundwater pathways complicate the quantification of different water balance components. To overcome this difficulty, we developed a mass balance approach based on coupled water and salt balance equations to estimate currently unknown water exchange fluxes through the Gialova lagoon, SW Peloponnese, Greece. Our approach facilitates quantification of both saline and freshwater exchange fluxes, using measured precipitation, water depth and salinity, and estimated evaporation rates over a study period of two years (2016–2017). While water exchanges were dominated by evaporation and saline water inputs from the sea during the summer, precipitation and freshwater inputs were more important during the winter. About 40 % and 60 % of the freshwater inputs were from precipitation and lateral freshwater flows, respectively. Approximately 70 % of the outputs was due to evaporation, with the remaining 30 % being water flow from the lagoon to the sea. Under future drier and warmer conditions, salinity in the lagoon is expected to increase, unless freshwater inputs are enhanced by restoring hydrologic connectivity between the lagoon and the surrounding freshwater bodies. This restoration strategy would be fundamental to stabilize the current wide seasonal fluctuations in salinity and maintain ecosystem functionality, but could be challenging to implement due to expected reductions in water availability in the freshwater bodies supporting the lagoon.

Stefano Manzoni et al.
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Stefano Manzoni et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
A modelling tool is developed to assess the vulnerability of coastal wetlands to climatic and water management changes. Applied to the case study of Gialova lagoon (Greece), this tool highlights the reliance of the lagoon functionality on scarce freshwater sources already under high demand from agriculture. Climatic changes will likely increase lagoon salinity, despite efforts to improve water management.
A modelling tool is developed to assess the vulnerability of coastal wetlands to climatic and...