Chlorophyll Variability in the Northeastern Gulf of Mexico

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Changes in chlorophyll concentration distribution in surface waters of the northeastern Gulf of Mexico (NEGOM) were examined using satellite and in situ data collected between November 1997 and August 2000. The patterns of chlorophyll distribution derived from in situ data consistently matched the satellite observations, even though the satellite-derived concentrations in coastal and offshore waters influenced by rivers were overestimated by the standard satellite data processing algorithms. River discharge and wind-driven upwelling were the major factors influencing surface chlorophyll-a variability for inshore regions. High in situ chlorophyll-a concentrations (≥1 mg m-3) occurred inshore and particularly near major river mouths during the summer seasons of 1998, 1999 and 2000. Plumes of Mississippi River water extended offshore to the southeast of the delta over distances >500 km from the river delta for maximum periods of 14 weeks between May and September every year and could reach the Florida Keys in certain years. The offshore transport of the plume was initiated by eastward or southeastward winds and then by separate anticyclonic eddies located southeast of the Mississippi delta and nearby shelf every year. Chlorophyll concentrations during the winter to spring transition in 1998 off Escambia, Choctawhatchee, Apalachicola and Suwannee Rivers and off Tampa Bay were up to 4 times higher than during the same periods in 1999 and 2000. This was related to higher freshwater discharge during the 1997-1998 winter-spring transition, coinciding with an El Niño-Southern Oscillation event, and to the unusually strong upwelling observed along the coast in spring 1998.

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International Journal of Remote Sensing, v. 32, issue 23, p. 8373-8391