A spatially dynamic model for the productivity of spores and adults of green macroalgae (Enteromorpha sp.) was developed for a mesotidal estuary (Mondego estuary, Portugal). Many of the algal processes and parameters included in the model were experimentally obtained. Model predictions were compared to a real time series (1993-1997) of macroalgal biomass variation and the two sets show a good agreement (ANOVA, P < 0.001). Results suggest that algal growth is highly sensitive to small changes in depth and exhibits different patterns of variation in different seasons. On a yearly basis, global calculations for the south channel of the estuary (137 ha) suggest that during bloom years, macroalgal biomass may reach about 21,205 ton DW compared to 240 ton DW in regular years. On a seasonal basis, the difference may be even more significant. The consequences of such variations on the nitrogen and phosphorus loading of the system and the adjacent coastal area are discussed.