Marine Science Faculty Publications

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upwelling, water parcel trajectories, west florida shelf

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Often described as oligotrophic, the west Florida continental shelf supports abundant fisheries, experiences blooms of the harmful alga, Karenia brevis, and exhibits subsurface chlorophyll maxima evident in shipboard and glider surveys. Renewal of inorganic nutrients by the upwelling of deeper ocean water onto the shelf may account for this, but what are the origins and pathways by which such new water may broach the shelf break and advance toward the shoreline? We address these questions via numerical model simulations of pseudo-Lagrangian, isopycnic water parcel trajectories. Focus is on 2010, when the west Florida shelf was subjected to an anomalously protracted period of upwelling caused by Gulf of Mexico Loop Current interactions with the shelf slope. Origins and pathways are determined by integrating trajectories over successive 45 day intervals, beginning from different locations along the shelf break and at various locations and depths along the shelf slope. Waters upwelling across the shelf break are found to originate from relatively shallow depths along the shelf slope. Even for the anomalous 2010 year, much of this upwelling occurs from about 150 m and above, although waters may broach the shelf break from 300 m depth, particularly in the Florida Panhandle. Such interannual renewal of west Florida shelf waters appears to have profound effects on west Florida shelf ecology.

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Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, v. 121, issue 8, p. 5672-5681

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