The Shelf Edge Exchange Processes II (SEEP-II) program was designed to examine the potential for export of organic carbon from the continental shelf to the deeper ocean. In the Middle Atlantic Bight of the east coast, U.S.A., a "cold pool" of relict winter water is isolated by the development of a strong seasonal thermocline on the shelf. Oxygen concentrations were monitored in and above the cold pool from March 1988 to May 1989, with electrodes moored at 19 and 38 m at a 42-m station off the Delmarva Peninsula, eastern U.S.A. An oxygen-flux simulation model was constructed to describe long-term changes in oxygen concentration and saturation. The model utilized biological rate and biomass measurements obtained at the mooring location during cruises. Vertical eddy diffusion was constrained by comparison with the redistribution of chlorofluorocarbons and heat after stratification, and by sensitivity analyses. Model predictions of the average daily change in oxygen concentration and saturation at 38 m were in good agreement with average changes recorded by moored oxygen sensors, when biological generation of oxygen was approximately equal to the thermotrophic consumption. Strong, but transient, fluctuations concentration and saturation were clearly associated with specific advective events, and had little lasting impact on the overall long-term trends. Consequently, model parameters derived from intermittent, cruise-based observations yielded satisfactory predictions of long-term trends. A carbon budget was constructed for the stratified summer period from data that largely overlapped with those used for the oxygen model. The continental shelf ecosystem operates in approximate balance during the summer, with a potential export of no more than 4% of primary production.
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