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Ocean Science An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  18 Jun 2020

18 Jun 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal OS.

Coastal mesoscale processes and their effect in phytoplankton distribution and community composition in the SE Bay of Biscay

Xabier Davila1, Anna Rubio1, Felipe Artigas2, Ingrid Puillat3, Ivan Manso-Narvarte1, Pascal Lazure3, and Ainhoa Caballero1 Xabier Davila et al.
  • 1AZTI-Tecnalia, Marine Research Division, Herrera kaia portualdea z/g, 20110 Pasaia, Spain
  • 2Université du LIttoral Côte d'Opale, Université de Lille, CNRS UMR 8187 LOG, Wimereux, France
  • 3IFREMER/Dyneco/Physed, BP 70, 29280 Plouzané, France

Abstract. Mesoscale dynamics play a major role in several ocean processes, not only in the transport of momentum, heat, mass, particles and microorganisms but also in the provisioning of nutrients into the euphotic zone. Mesoscale processes can define niches where specific phytoplankton species flourish. However, this effect is not straightforward in coastal areas, which are submitted to a more complex interplay between different oceanic processes. In this context, the ETOILE campaign surveyed the CapBreton canyon area in the South-East of Bay of Biscay in early August 2017. The main objective of this study was to link the occurrence and distribution of phytoplankton with the mesoscale ocean processes. On top of the remote sensing data available for this area, such as High Frequency radar or satellite data, in situ discrete hydrographic measurements were carried out by a CTD and a Moving Vessel Profiler. Likewise, multi-spectral fluorescence casts were performed in selected stations. Other parameters such as temperature, conductivity and in vivo multi-spectral fluorescence were also continuously recorded at surface. From our observations, we discuss on the distinct effect and importance of different factors affecting the phytoplankton distribution. Overall, salinity is the most important parameter modulating not only algae distribution but also the composition of the community in terms of spectral groups. Although below the mixed layer salinity still impacts significantly phytoplankton, vorticity comes into play and becomes the dominant factor determining both distribution and composition. The present study brings into consideration the relevance of the hydrodynamical variables in the study of phytoplankton.

Xabier Davila et al.

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Xabier Davila et al.

Xabier Davila et al.


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Latest update: 28 Sep 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
The ocean is a turbulent system, full of meandering currents and fronts of various scales. These processes can influence the distribution of microscopic algae or phytoplankton by upwelling deep, nutrient-rich waters to the sunlit surface or by actively gathering and accumulating them. Our results suggest that at surface, salinity is the main conditioning factor for phytoplankton distribution. However, at the subsurface, oceanic currents influence the phytoplankton distribution the most.
The ocean is a turbulent system, full of meandering currents and fronts of various scales. These...