Document Type

Article

Date of Original Version

2009

Abstract

We present observations from deployments of a microstructure turbulence instrument (the Towed Microstructure and Auxiliary Sensor Instrument) aboard a pumping profiling vehicle (the Lamont Pumping SeaSoar) towed behind a research vessel at the New England shelf break front in August 2002. From these we determined coincident fine‐scale vertical eddy diffusivity and gradients of nitrate, phosphate, and silicate on several transects spanning the front. We then quantified vertical turbulent nutrient fluxes through the base of the euphotic zone (defined as the 1% light level), the base of the density transition zone, maximum nutrient gradients (the nutriclines), and the depth of maximum stratification (the pycnocline). Vertical eddy diffusivity estimates spanned a wide range from near‐molecular levels at the pycnocline to values exceeding 10−3 m2 s−1 at depth and in the surface layers. Vertical nutrient fluxes were maximal at the 1% light level and decreased by 2 orders of magnitude as they moved upward through the water column to the depth of the pycnocline. Nutrient fluxes were enhanced shoreward of the front because of high mixing rates and nutrient gradients at the depth of the 1% light level. Nitrate fluxes there averaged about 6 × 10−5 mmol N m−2 s−1, sufficient to support a net community productivity of 30 mmol C m−2 d−1. Seaward of the front, these fluxes averaged about 1 × 10−5 mmol N m−2 s−1 and would support correspondingly lower productivity. A small part of the upward flux appeared to support a silicifying community of phytoplankton that consumed phosphate in proportion to nitrate at about double the canonical Redfield stoichiometry.

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