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Free Content Vertical motion of the thermocline, nitracline and chlorophyll maximum layers in relation to currents on the Southern California Shelf

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A continuous four-day time series of nitrate concentration, temperature, chlorophyll fluorescence, and currents, sampled at fixed depths, revealed that distributions of temperature and nitrate could be accounted for by vertical motions in the water column associated with the semidiurnal internal tide and internal waves. A probable mixing event was observed: the transport of nitrate into the surface-layer associated with shear instabilities generated by internal waves. On temporal scales of less than a few hours, the variation of chlorophyll fluorescence could also be explained by vertical advection. However, on longer scales, swimming behavior of the phytoplankton assemblage (dominated by Ceratium spp.), along with vertical motions in the water column, appears to account for the vertical distribution of chlorophyll. These results indicate that the nitracline maintains a stable relationship with the density structure of the water column on a scale of days, whereas the subsurface chlorophyll maximum can change significantly over several hours.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 1983

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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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