The Influence of Advection on the Spatial Variability of Nutrient Concentrations on the Texas Louisiana Continental-Shelf


1993 Feb


Sahl LE
Merrell WJ
Biggs DC

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Water column nutrient concentrations are presented for winter 1989 over the continental margin of the northwest Gulf of Mexico. Three physical processes advect waters of different nutrient concentrations onto the Texas-Louisiana shelf. These advection processes: (1) river discharge; (2) bay discharge; and (3) shelf-edge upwelling, influence the large-scale spatial variations of nutrient concentrations observed over the shelf. On the inner shelf near Atchafalaya Bay, river discharge injects high concentrations of silicate, phosphate, nitrate and nitrite into near surface water. Farther west, near Galveston and Port Aransas, inner shelf waters have high silicate and phosphate concentrations due to nutrient enrichment in the discharges from Galveston Bay and Corpus Christi Bay. Finally, upwelling at the shelf edge can introduce high nutrient midwater near the base of the mixed layer over the outer shelf. This upwelled water usually has higher silicate, phosphate and nitrate concentrations than those in the overlying surface water. However, if upwelled from below the nitrite maximum, the upwelled water can have quite low nitrite concentrations. The shelf edge upwelling is a result of bottom Ekman upwelling caused by a northeastward current on the outer shelf. At the shelf edge off Galveston the data show that upwelling was not occurring at the time of the study but dissolved oxygen saturation levels and nutrient concentrations show that it had occurred