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Free Content Influences of river discharge on biological production in the inner shelf: A coupled biological and physical model of the Louisiana-Texas Shelf

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A coupled biological and physical model was applied to study the influence of river discharge on biological variability on the Louisiana-Texas (LATEX) continental shelf. The physical part included a primitive-equation turbulent closure model, and the biological part was a simple phytoplankton (P), zooplankton (Z), and nutrient (N) model. The model was forced by freshwater discharge from the river and ran prognostically under initial conditions of springtime water stratification and a steady-state solution of the P-Z-N model with no horizontal dependence. A nutrient source was included at the mouth of the river. The model predicted a well-defined density frontal zone on the inner shelf. The biological field showed a region of high phytoplankton biomass in the whole water column near the coast and a moderately high biomass patch in the upper 10 m at the outer edge of the frontal zone. A high concentration dome of nutrients was found near the bottom within the frontal zone. New production of nutrients was high throughout the whole water column near the coast and in the upper 10 m at the outer edge of the density front, but lower in the frontal zone. The model results were in reasonable agreement with observational data taken from a May 1993 interdisciplinary survey on the LATEX shelf.

Cross-shelf distribution of biological production varied significantly with direction of wind stress but not with the diurnal tide. The model results suggested that the bottom-rich nutrient distribution within the frontal zone was caused by the interaction of physical and biological processes. Physical processes caused the formation of an area of high nutrient concentration in the weak current region within the frontal zone. Subsequent biological processes limited the increase of nutrients in the upper euphotic zone and hence led to the bottom-rich nutrient pattern.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 1997

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  • The Journal of Marine Research, one of the oldest journals in American marine science, publishes peer-reviewed research articles covering a broad array of topics in physical, biological and chemical oceanography. Articles that deal with processes, as well as those that report significant observations, are welcome. Biological studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. The editors strive always to serve authors and readers in the academic oceanographic community by publishing papers vital to the marine research in the long and rich tradition of the Sears Foundation for Marine Research. We welcome you to the Journal of Marine Research.
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