Home > Explore Data & Reports > Simulating the effects of phosphorus limitation in the Mississippi and Atchafalaya River plumes

Citation:

Laurent, A., K. Fennel, J. Hu, and R. Hetland. 2012. Simulating the effects of phosphorus limitation in the Mississippi and Atchafalaya River plumes. Biogeosciences, 9:4707-4723. https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-9-4707-2012

Data/Report Type:

Sponsored Research

Description

The continental shelf of the northern Gulf of Mexico receives high dissolved inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus loads from the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers. The nutrient load results in high primary production in the river plumes and contributes to the development of hypoxia on the Louisiana shelf in summer. While phytoplankton growth is considered to be typically nitrogen-limited in marine waters, phosphorus limitation has been observed in this region during periods of peak river discharge in spring and early summer. Here we investigate the presence, spatio-temporal distribution and implications of phosphorus limitation in the plume region using a circulation model of the northern Gulf of Mexico coupled to a multi-nutrient ecosystem model. Results from a 7-yr simulation (2001-2007) compare well with several sources of observations and suggest that phosphorus limitation develops every year between the Mississippi and Atchafalaya deltas. Model simulations show that phosphorus limitation results in a delay and westward shift of a fraction of river-stimulated primary production. The consequence is a reduced flux of particulate organic matter to the sediment near the Mississippi delta, but slightly enhanced fluxes west of Atchafalaya Bay. Simulations with altered river phosphate concentrations (±50%) show that significant variation in the spatial extent of phosphorus limitation (±40% in July) results from changes in phosphate load.

Note to readers with disabilities: Some scientific publications linked from this website may not conform to Section 508 accessibility standards due to the complexity of the information being presented. If you need assistance accessing this electronic content, please contact the lead/corresponding author, Primary Contact, or nccos.webcontent@noaa.gov.

Explore Similar Data/Reports
NCCOS-with-tag-to-side-bld

NCCOS delivers ecosystem science solutions for stewardship of the nation’s ocean and coastal resources, in direct support of NOS priorities, offices, and customers, and to sustain thriving coastal communities and economies.

National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science
1305 East West Highway, Rm 8110
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone: (240) 533-0300 / Fax: (301) 713-4353
Email: nccos.webcontent@noaa.gov

    Sign Up for Our Quarterly Newsletter