Diatom Hotspots Driven by Western Boundary Current Instability

TitleDiatom Hotspots Driven by Western Boundary Current Instability
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsOliver, H, Zhang, WG, Smith, WO, Alatalo, P, P. Chappell, D, Hirzel, AJ, Selden, CR, Sosik, HM, Stanley, RHR, Zhu, Y, McGillicuddy, DJ
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Type of ArticleJournal Article

Climatic changes have decreased the stability of the Gulf Stream (GS), increasing the frequency at which its meanders interact with the Mid-Atlantic Bight (MAB) continental shelf and slope region. These intrusions are thought to suppress biological productivity by transporting low-nutrient water to the otherwise productive shelf edge region. Here we present evidence of widespread, anomalously intense subsurface diatom hotspots in the MAB slope sea that likely resulted from a GS intrusion in July 2019. The hotspots (at ∼50 m) were associated with water mass properties characteristic of GS water (∼100 m); it is probable that the hotspots resulted from the upwelling of GS water during its transport into the slope sea, likely by a GS meander directly intruding onto the continental slope east of where the hotspots were observed. Further work is required to unravel how increasingly frequent direct GS intrusions could influence MAB marine ecosystems.


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