Marine Science Faculty Publications

Oceanic Chlorophyll around Carbonate Platforms in the Western Caribbean: Observations from CZCS Data

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



ICRS6, Remote sensing, Ocean color, Chlorophyll, CZCS


Because excess trophic resources (inorganic nutri- ents plus organic carbon) are detrimental to coral-reef and carbonate-platform development, biotic-pigment concentrations in sea-surface waters derived from Coastal Zone Color Scanner (CZCS) data can be useful in analyzing large-scale patterns of coral-reef development. The Nicaraguan Rise area of the western Caribbean provides a test case because reef development declines westward, from well developed reefs along the north coast of Jamaica to algal-sponge dominance of benthic com- munities on drowning platforms west of Pedro Bank. CZCS data revealed that Jamaica and the eastern end of the Nicaraguan Rise is predominantly influ- enced by low-chlorophyll ( less than 0.1 mg/m3) water from the Atlantic. Southern Caribbean water, usually carrying 0.125-0.15 mg Chl/m3 from runoff and up- welling off northern South America, flows over the more western banks. Local topographically-induced upwelling, as well as flow reversal and deep mix- ing associated with seasonal storms, further enrich surface waters over the rise. Although relative differences in water masses are obvious in CZCS scenes, conventional sea-based ocean- ography alone might have missed these trends because absolute differences are relatively small.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Proceedings of the Sixth International Coral Reef Symposium, v. 2, p. 449-454