Israel Medina-Gómeza, Ana Aguilar Trujillo, Ismael Marino-Tapia, Giuliana Cruz, Jorge Herrera-Silveira, Cecilia Enriquez


ABSTRACT: Inorganic nutrients and phytoplankton (chlorophyll-a concentration and community variables) were studied under a hydrologic scenario defined by a joint topographic-hydrodynamic upwelling event and an algal bloom in the southeast Gulf of Mexico. To do so three oceanographic cruises (GOMEX series) were undertaken throughout the Yucatan shelf during: September 11th-21st of 2010, September 23rd-October 3 rd of 2011, and November 29th-December 9th, 2012 (named as GOMEX-1, GOMEX-2 and GOMEX-3, respectively). We aim to assess the spatial inorganic nutrients and Chl-a patterns corresponding to each cruise to explore potential biochemical consequences of the temporal variability of the vertical inflow in the eastern shelf boundary (Cape Catoche: CC) and further spatial propagation of water featuring this hydrographic signature onto a shallow shelf, marked also by a high algal bloom incidence. This framework allows tackling the implications of the interplay between coastal variability and oceanographic processes on the phytoplankton biomass and community parameters. The spatial pattern of surficial Chl-a, as well as sub-surface maxima of ≈10 mgm−3 concurrent with the 22.5 °C isotherm over the southeastern shelf area of CC supports the fact that vertical nutrients supply is removed from the euphotic layer through phytoplankton uptake. This scenario indicates a biochemical setting consistent with rapid transfer of external resources advected from deep levels, capable not only to enhance phytoplankton growth, but also to change its species composition. Vertical mixing conditions associated with N-NW winds (locally known as “nortes”) and a lack of upwelling scenario during GOMEX-3 in 2012 lead to relatively more homogeneous nitrate spatial distribution with overall high concentrations in deep, oceanic areas subject to nutrients entrainment. The distribution of specific richness among diatoms and dinoflagellates and relative abundance within such groups, as well as Chl-a concentrations are considered normal with regards to what has been observed in other studies for the Gulf of Mexico. The potential implications of large-scale, inter-annual climatic processes (e.g., El Niño-Southern Oscillation) on marine resources relevant to regional primary pro- ductivity variability (changes in the phytoplankton community) are discussed.

Keywords: Algal bloom, Chlorophyll-a, Upwelling, Inorganic nutrients, Shelf sea, Yucatan.

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