Bio-optical observations of the 2004 Labrador Sea phytoplankton bloom

Peter G. Strutton, Todd R. Martz, Michael D. Degrandpre, Wade R. McGillis, William M. Drennan, Emmanuel Boss

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A unique time series of moored bio-optical measurements documented the 2004 spring-summer bloom in the southern Labrador Sea. In situ and satellite chlorophyll data show that chlorophyll levels in the 2004 bloom were at the upper end of those typically observed in this region. Satellite chlorophyll and profiling float temperature/salinity data show that the main bloom, which typically peaks in June/July, is often preceded by ephemeral mixed layer shoaling and a lesser, short-lived bloom in May; this was the case in 2004. The particulate backscatter to beam attenuation ratio (bbp[470 nm]/C p[660 nm]) showed peaks in the relative abundance of small particles at bloom initiation and during the decline of the bloom, while larger particles dominated during the bloom. Chlorophyll/Cp and bbp/ chlorophyll were correlated with carbon export and dominated by changes in the pigment per cell associated with lower light levels due to enhanced attenuation of solar radiation during the bloom. An NPZ (nutrients, phytoplankton, zooplankton) model captured the phytoplankton bloom and an early July peak in zooplankton. Moored acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) data showed an additional mid-June peak in zooplankton biomass which was attributed to egg-laying copepods. The data reported here represent one of the few moored time series of Cp, bbp and chlorophyll extending over several months in an open ocean region. Interpretation of data sets such as this will become increasingly important as these deployments become more commonplace via ocean observing systems. Moreover, these data contribute to the understanding of biological-physical coupling in a biogeochemically important, yet poorly studied region.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberC11037
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2011


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