Aquatic Sciences

, Volume 79, Issue 2, pp 219–230 | Cite as

Global climate change and local watershed management as potential drivers of salinity variation in a tropical coastal lagoon (Laguna de Terminos, Mexico)

  • Renaud Fichez
  • Denisse Archundia
  • Christian Grenz
  • Pascal Douillet
  • Francisco Gutiérrez Mendieta
  • Montserrat Origel Moreno
  • Lionel Denis
  • Adolfo Contreras Ruiz Esparza
  • Jorge Zavala-Hidalgo
Research Article


The wide range of ecological goods and services provided by tropical coastal lagoons and wetlands are under considerable pressure due to the synergistic effects of local anthropogenic impact and global climate change. In transitional waters, salinity is a key driver of ecological processes mostly depending on the balance between marine and river inputs, a balance that can be significantly modified by climate change and by anthropogenic alteration of the watershed. Mesoamerica being considered as a climate change hot-spot and as an ecoregion strongly vulnerable to global change, our study aimed at analyzing the relationship between salinity, river runoff, and rainfall variability in a tropical coastal lagoon and to assess the respective influence of climate change and watershed management. The study focusing on the large and shallow coastal lagoon of Laguna de Terminos in south eastern Mexico established: (1) the variability in salinity distribution along the yearly cycle and the occurrence of a high salinity anomaly period during the wet season of 2009; (2) the relationship between lagoon waters salinity and river inputs further underlying the anomalous situation encountered in 2009; (3) a long term increase in river discharge during the past 60 years, indicating potential salinity decrease in the lagoon during that same period; (4) an absence of any change in rainfall linking the increase in runoff to watershed management rather than long term trend in climate change. Additionally, the specific context of the 2009–2010 Central-Equatorial Pacific El Niño is underlined and the potential relationship between river discharge and ENSO is discussed. Those results should be of significant practical value to decision-makers who are often keen to point the finger at global climate change when local environmental management is also and sometime most significantly responsible.


Tropical Coastal Lagoon Watershed Salinity Climate change ENSO River discharge Land use Environmental management Sustainable development Mexico Mesoamerica Terminos 



This work was supported by Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Université de Lille, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Iztapalapa (UAM-I) and French National Program Ecosphère Continentale et Côtière-Dynamique et Réactivité des Interfaces Littorales (EC2CO-DRIL). We are very thankful to the Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnologia, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (ICML-UNAM) for providing access to their field station in Ciudad del Carmen. We are equally indebted to the Mexican Comisión Nacional del Agua (CONAGUA) for online access to long-term series of river discharges and precipitation through their databases “Banco Nacional de Datos de Aguas Superficiales” (BANDAS) and “Base de Datos Climatologica Nacional—Sistema CLICOM”, respectively.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Renaud Fichez
    • 1
  • Denisse Archundia
    • 2
  • Christian Grenz
    • 1
  • Pascal Douillet
    • 1
  • Francisco Gutiérrez Mendieta
    • 3
  • Montserrat Origel Moreno
    • 1
    • 3
  • Lionel Denis
    • 4
  • Adolfo Contreras Ruiz Esparza
    • 5
  • Jorge Zavala-Hidalgo
    • 5
  1. 1.Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography (MIO), UM 110, IRD, CNRS/INSU, Aix Marseille UniversitéUniversité de ToulonMarseilleFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire d’étude des Transferts en Hydrologie et Environnement (LTHE) UM 5564, CNRS, INP, IRDUniversité Joseph FourierGrenobleFrance
  3. 3.Departamento de HidrobiologíaUniversidad Autónoma Metropolitana-IztapalapaMexico D.F.Mexico
  4. 4.Laboratoire d’Océanologie et de Géosciences (LOG) UM 8187Université des Sciences et Technologies de LilleWimereuxFrance
  5. 5.Centro de Ciencias de la AtmósferaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMexico D.F.Mexico

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