Isolation on the West Florida shelf with implications for red tides and pollutant dispersal in the Gulf of Mexico

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31 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Analysis of year-long drifter trajectories and records of simulated surface Lagrangian Coherent Structures (LCSs) have suggested the presence of a resilient Cross-Shelf Transport Barrier (CSTB) on the West Florida Shelf (WFS). The CSTB was conjectured to provide a large degree of isolation, which is consequential for the fueling of red tides on the southern WFS by nutrients possibly released by rivers and canals directly on the region. Here this conjecture is thoroughly tested by identifying LCSs as well as performing tracer advection calculations based on seven-year-long records of surface and subsurface currents produced by a HYbrid-Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM) simulation of the Gulf of Mexico (GoM). The identified LCSs suggest that the CSTB extends downward in the water column. The tracer calculations suggest that, while the majority of the nutrients possibly released by rivers and canals directly on the southern WFS are retained within the region for long times, only a small fraction of the nutrients possibly released by rivers outside the WFS reach the southern WFS, mainly accompanying shoreward excursions of the CSTB. These results add importance to the role played by the CSTB in controlling red tide development on the WFS. Implications of the results for the dispersal of pollutants, such as oil, in the GoM are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)685-696
Number of pages12
JournalNonlinear Processes in Geophysics
Volume17
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010

Fingerprint

red tide
Gulf of Mexico
Tides
shelves
Nutrients
contaminants
isolation
Rivers
Canals
canal
pollutant
nutrient
tracer
river
Fueling
drifter
Advection
nutrients
Oils
advection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics

Cite this

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title = "Isolation on the West Florida shelf with implications for red tides and pollutant dispersal in the Gulf of Mexico",
abstract = "Analysis of year-long drifter trajectories and records of simulated surface Lagrangian Coherent Structures (LCSs) have suggested the presence of a resilient Cross-Shelf Transport Barrier (CSTB) on the West Florida Shelf (WFS). The CSTB was conjectured to provide a large degree of isolation, which is consequential for the fueling of red tides on the southern WFS by nutrients possibly released by rivers and canals directly on the region. Here this conjecture is thoroughly tested by identifying LCSs as well as performing tracer advection calculations based on seven-year-long records of surface and subsurface currents produced by a HYbrid-Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM) simulation of the Gulf of Mexico (GoM). The identified LCSs suggest that the CSTB extends downward in the water column. The tracer calculations suggest that, while the majority of the nutrients possibly released by rivers and canals directly on the southern WFS are retained within the region for long times, only a small fraction of the nutrients possibly released by rivers outside the WFS reach the southern WFS, mainly accompanying shoreward excursions of the CSTB. These results add importance to the role played by the CSTB in controlling red tide development on the WFS. Implications of the results for the dispersal of pollutants, such as oil, in the GoM are discussed.",
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