Free Content Developmental strategy for effective sampling to detect possible nutrient fluxes in oligotrophic coastal reef waters in the Caribbean

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The stress contributed by nutrients to the coral reef ecosystem is among many problems that may be resolved using the coastal ocean observing system (COOS) being developed by various institutions. Traditional nutrient sampling has been inadequate to resolve issues on episodic nutrient fluxes in reef regions due to temporal and spatial variability. This paper illustrates sampling strategy using COOS information to identify areas that need critical investigation. The area investigated is within the Puerto Rico subdomain.

Nutrient profile results from the region indicate nitrate is undetectable in the upper 50m due to high biological consumption. The strong vertical fluctuation in the upper 50m demonstrates a high anomaly in temperature and salinity and a strong cross correlation signal. High chlorophyll a concentration corresponding to seasonal high nutrient influx coincides with higher precipitation accumulation rates and apparent riverine input from the Amazon and Orinoco rivers. Non-detectability of nutrients in the upper 50m is a reflection of poor sampling frequency or the absence of a highly sensitive nutrient analysis method to capture episodic events. Thus, this paper explores the range of depths and concentrations that need to be critically investigated to determine nutrient fluxes, nutrient sources, and climatological factors that can affect nutrient delivery. It also provides insight into needed sampling rates and temporal and spatial domain choices. Finally, it demonstrates a scientific reconnaissance for a field study that is now possible with online in-situ and remote sensing observations and numerical simulations, as a consequence of IOOS in general and COOS in particular.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2009

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