Enhanced nutrient fluxes at the shelf sea seasonal thermocline caused by stratified flow over a bank

Jacqueline F. Tweddle, Jonathan Sharples, Matthew R. Palmer, Keith Davidson, Sharon McNeill

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Patches of enhanced chlorophyll a (Chl) concentrations within the thermocline were observed over the slopes of several banks in the Celtic Sea. The turbulent mixing of nutrients from the bottom water into the thermocline was found to be greatly enhanced over the slope of a bank (up to 52 mmol nitrate m−2 day−1), compared to over nearby flat seafloor (∼2 mmol nitrate m−2 day−1). This increased nutrient supply, forced by locally generated lee waves and internal mixing, is greater than nitrate supplies to the productive tidal mixing fronts or to the shelf edge. We hypothesize this nutrient flux promotes an increase in phytoplankton growth in the thermocline over and downstream of shelf sea banks, contributing to the horizontal patchiness in the thermocline Chl signal. The persistence of the strong biological response to mixing at the bank, combined with the ubiquity of shelf sea banks, suggests these bathymetric features have wide importance for “new” primary production in shelf seas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-47
Number of pages11
JournalProgress in Oceanography
Early online date27 Jun 2013
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


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