Shallow water processes govern system-wide phytoplankton bloom dynamics: A modeling study

Journal of Marine Systems
By: , and 



A pseudo-two-dimensional numerical model of estuarine phytoplankton growth and consumption, vertical turbulent mixing, and idealized cross-estuary transport was developed and applied to South San Francisco Bay. This estuary has two bathymetrically distinct habitat types (deep channel, shallow shoal) and associated differences in local net rates of phytoplankton growth and consumption, as well as differences in the water column's tendency to stratify. Because many physical and biological time scales relevant to algal population dynamics decrease with decreasing depth, process rates can be especially fast in the shallow water. We used the model to explore the potential significance of hydrodynamic connectivity between a channel and shoal and whether lateral transport can allow physical or biological processes (e.g. stratification, benthic grazing, light attenuation) in one sub-region to control phytoplankton biomass and bloom development in the adjacent sub-region. Model results for South San Francisco Bay suggest that lateral transport from a productive shoal can result in phytoplankton biomass accumulation in an adjacent deep, unproductive channel. The model further suggests that turbidity and benthic grazing in the shoal can control the occurrence of a bloom system-wide; whereas, turbidity, benthic grazing, and vertical density stratification in the channel are likely to only control local bloom occurrence or modify system-wide bloom magnitude. Measurements from a related field program are generally consistent with model-derived conclusions.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Shallow water processes govern system-wide phytoplankton bloom dynamics: A modeling study
Series title Journal of Marine Systems
DOI 10.1016/j.jmarsys.2008.07.011
Volume 75
Issue 1-2
Year Published 2009
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 17 p.
First page 70
Last page 86
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