Cross-shelf circulation and phytoplankton distribution at the summertime New England shelfbreak front

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We investigate aspects of the secondary (cross-shelf) circulation at the Middle Atlantic Bight shelfbreak front using high-resolution data collected on the New England Shelf in August 2002. The alongshore shelfbreak jet coincides with the front at the seaward edge of the cold pool (remnant winter shelf water) and there is a suggestion of a cross-stream convergence centered at the jet core. Despite indications of convergence we found no evidence of a surface subduction on the seaward side of the front. At depth 70 m near the shelfbreak there was a patch of chlorophyll, located within a local temperature-salinity maximum which, though significantly below the euphotic zone, appeared to be photo-acclimated and viable. The chlorophyll feature could be the result of a local subduction by a larger scale eddy circulation seaward of the front. Dye tracer experiments directly observed the convergence at the foot of the shelfbreak front and subsequent upwelling of bottom boundary layer water along the shoreward side of the shelfbreak front. But, we found no evidence that this upwelling influenced productivity at the front. Further, since there was no cross-shelf maximum in subsurface chlorophyll at the front, we conclude that this productivity is in general, sustained by a broadly distributed local vertical nutrient flux from an underlying nutrient reservoir. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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Journal of Marine Systems