Water column dynamics of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), nitrogen and O2 on Georges Bank during April, 1990

Raymond N. Sambrotto, Christopher Langdon

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16 Scopus citations


We measured dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), combined inorganic nitrogen, O2, chlorophyll a (Chl a), particulate carbon and nitrogen (PCN) along with selected additional parameters on Georges Bank during April. Summer conditions were developing in the region as reflected by elevated biological production at the margins of the Bank (Chl a and O2 levels > 16 mg m-3 and > 109% saturated respectively) and nitrate depletion on mid-Bank. Oxygen supersaturations were maintained in the regions of low NO3 concentration, suggesting that a rapid supply of NO3 was occurring horizontally from deeper waters. The productive region was propagating into deeper waters as daylight increased but was not yet associated with the tidally mixed front on the western flank. Changes in DIC and O2 suggested net community production (NCP) of 0.24-0.42 g C m-2 day-1 on the flank. A collaborative purposeful tracer experiment on mid-Bank permitted a time series of net biological activity to be made and changes in both DIC and O2 indicated similarly large net respiration was occurring there (NCP = -1.4 g C m-2 day-1). A budget of particulate carbon and nitrogen suggested the biological character of the mid-Bank seston changed from autotrophy to heterotrophy and most of the remaining suspended particulates were detrital. Thus, the prolonged residence time of shelf water on the Bank contributes to efficient respiration of much of the organic matter formed locally and diminishes the Bank's role as a source of organic matter for off-shelf or down-shelf export. Based on an analysis that accounted for mixing effects between different water masses on the Bank, the ratio of DIC to NO3 consumption was significantly greater than the Redfield ratio of 6.6. Thus, in such eutrophic regions, estimates of NCP derived from new (nitrate) production may be low by as much as 40%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)765-789
Number of pages25
JournalContinental Shelf Research
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Geology


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