Plankton production in tidal fronts: A model of Georges Bank in summer
A two-dimensional (x,z) coupled physical-biological model of the plankton on Georges Bank during the summer was developed. The physical portion included a primitive-equation turbulence-closure model with topography-following σ coordinate. The biological model was a simple N-P-Z model. Tidal forcing at the model boundary generated a well-mixed region on the top of the bank, and strong tidal fronts at the bank edges. Biological fields were homogenized on the bank, while pronounced phytoplankton patches and horizontal gradients in properties developed in the fronts. The biomasses and fluxes of biological variables in the model agreed well with field estimates from Georges Bank. The phytoplankton in the well-mixed region of the bank were found to be nutrient replete, with f ratios of about 0.3. Values up to 0.7 were found for the f ratios in the fronts, where phytoplankton patches were supported by vertical fluxes of nutrients from below the euphotic zone. While the patterns of patchiness in the fronts were stable between tidal periods, the structure of patches and fluxes changed dramatically during a tidal cycle. Enhanced vertical mixing and horizontal gradients formed during a brief period of the tide, accounting for much of the cross-frontal nutrient flux. Sampling in such a dynamic system would be very difficult, and probably miss the essential features.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: July 1, 1996
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