The effect of summertime shelf break upwelling on nutrient flux in southeastern United States continental shelf waters
Abstract:Gulf Stream-induced upwelling at the shelf break of the South Atlantic Bight (SAB) presents water which, in summer, can intrude onto the continental shelf. In July 1979, an XBT survey of the continental shelf revealed such an intrusion of cold water off St. Augustine, Florida.
From weekly mappings, it was determined that Gulf Stream water <22.5°C covered 3280 km2 and occupied 38 km3 shoreward of the 42 m isobath. Using temperature and nitrate distributions and the T°C:NO3 relationship, we determined that 3200 metric tons of nitrate-nitrogen were advected into the study area. Net nitrate-nitrogen fluxes were 32 moles · m−2 · sec−1 across the 42 m isobath and 30 moles · m−2 · sec−1 across the 30 m isobath.
The advection of nitrate-enriched water into the photic zone caused a dramatic increase in phytoplankton biomass. The decreasing nitrate concentrations correlated with chlorophyll increases indicating phytoplankton production was mainly at the expense of nitrate advected into the area. Prior to the intrusion, production was likely supported by regenerated nutrients.
Summertime intrusions supply an estimated 2.9 × 104 mtons NO3-N · yr−1 to the middle shelf area of the southern SAB and are thus a major source of nitrogen to that area.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: November 1, 1984
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