Remotely Sensed Sea-Surface Chlorophyll and Poc Flux at Deep Gulf of Mexico Benthos Sampling Stations

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Gulf of Mexico, Interannual variation, Ocean color, Particulate organic carbon, Primary production, Seasonal variation

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Biweekly composite averages of the standing stock of sea-surface chlorophyll (SSC) were derived from SeaWiFS satellite ocean-color data at 44 benthic sampling stations occupied along the continental slope and rise by the Deep Gulf of Mexico Benthos (DGoMB) program. At the 22 DGoMB sites north of 26°N and west of 91°W in the NW Gulf of Mexico, annual average SSC was 0.19 mg m-3, ranging at most locations from annual highs of about 0.3 mg m-3 in November-February to lows of about 0.1 mg m-3 in May-August. Comparison of three years of SeaWiFS data (January 1998-December 2000) showed little inter-annual variation at these NW Gulf stations. In contrast, at the 22 NE Gulf sites north of 26°N and east of 91°W, SSC averaged 2.8 times higher than in the NW Gulf, showing also strong inter-annual variation. Maxima in the NE region occurred in November-February and also during summers. The summer maxima were associated with Mississippi River water transported offshore to the east and southward by anticyclonic eddies in the NE Gulf. The apparent increases in SSC in June-August at NE Gulf stations reached average monthly concentrations >50% greater than in November-February. Based on a primary productivity model and a vertical flux model, the calculated export of particulate organic carbon (POC flux reaching the seafloor) was estimated as ∼18 mg C m-2 day-1 at the 22 NE Gulf stations, and ∼9 mg C m-2 day-1 at the 22 NW Gulf stations. These estimates are comparable to fluxes measured by benthic lander by others in the DGoMB program, which may drive the differences in west versus east bathymetric zonation and community structure of macrobenthos that were sampled with large box corers by others in the DGoMB program.

Citation / Publisher Attribution

Deep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, v. 55, issue 24-26, p. 2555-2562