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Iron links river runoff and shelf width to phytoplankton biomass along the U.S. West Coast


Chase, Z and Strutton, PG and Hales, B, Iron links river runoff and shelf width to phytoplankton biomass along the U.S. West Coast, Geophysical Research Letters, 34 pp. L04607. ISSN 0094-8276 (2007) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

Copyright 2007 American Geophysical Union

DOI: doi:10.1029/2006GL028069


A poleward increase in phytoplankton biomass along the West Coast of North America has been attributed to increasing river runoff towards the north. We combine streamflow and shelf width data with satellite-derived estimates of phytoplankton biomass to quantify the relationship between these variables. We find that a combination of winter streamflow and shelf width can account for over 80% of the spatial variance in summer chlorophyll within 50 km of the coast. At a given location, interannual variability in streamflow is not associated with interannual variability in chlorophyll. We attribute these relationships to the role of rivers as suppliers of the micronutrient iron, and the role of the shelf as a ‘capacitor’ for riverine iron, charging during the high-flow winter season and discharging during the upwelling season. Data from the Oregon shelf confirm that, during winter, a significant fraction of riverine iron escapes the estuary and reaches the coastal ocean.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:iron productivity eastern boundary current
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Oceanography
Research Field:Chemical oceanography
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the earth sciences
UTAS Author:Chase, Z (Professor Zanna Chase)
UTAS Author:Strutton, PG (Professor Peter Strutton)
ID Code:79534
Year Published:2007
Web of Science® Times Cited:66
Deposited By:IMAS Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2012-09-18
Last Modified:2012-11-06

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