Articles | Volume 7, issue 1
Research article
17 Jan 2011
Research article |  | 17 Jan 2011

Influence of cross-shelf water transport on nutrients and phytoplankton in the East China Sea: a model study

L. Zhao and X. Guo

Abstract. A three dimensional coupled biophysical model was used to examine the supply of oceanic nutrients to the shelf of the East China Sea (ECS) and its role in primary production over the shelf. The model consisted of two parts: the hydrodynamic module was based on a nested model with a horizontal resolution of 1/18 degree, whereas the biological module was a lower trophic level ecosystem model including two types of phytoplankton, three elements of nutrients, and biogenic organic material. The model results suggested that seasonal variations occurred in the distribution of nutrients and chlorophyll a over the shelf of the ECS. After comparison with available observed nutrients and chlorophyll a data, the model results were used to calculate volume and nutrients fluxes across the shelf break. The annual mean total fluxes were 1.53 Sv for volume, 9.4 kmol s−1 for DIN, 0.7 kmol s−1 for DIP, and 18.2 kmol s−1 for silicate. Two areas, northeast of Taiwan and southwest of Kyushu, were found to be major source regions of oceanic nutrients to the shelf. Although the onshore fluxes of nutrients and volume both had apparent seasonal variations, the seasonal variation of the onshore nutrient flux did not exactly follow that of the onshore volume flux. Additional calculations in which the concentration of nutrients in Kuroshio water was artificially increased suggested that the oceanic nutrients were distributed in the bottom layer from the shelf break to the region offshore of the Changjiang estuary from spring to summer and appeared in the surface layer from autumn to winter. The calculations also implied that the supply of oceanic nutrients to the shelf can change the consumption of pre-existing nutrients from rivers. The response of primary production over the shelf to the oceanic nutrients was confirmed not only in the surface layer (mainly at the outer shelf and shelf break in winter and in the region offshore of the Changjiang estuary in summer) but also in the subsurface layer over the shelf from spring to autumn.

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