Freshwater outflow and Subtropical Convergence influence on phytoplankton biomass on the southern Brazilian continental shelf

Ciotti, Áurea Maria; Odebrecht, Clarisse; Fillmann, Gilberto; Möller Junior, Osmar Olinto


The present study discusses the role of different continentalshelf water masses on inorganic nutrient levels and on phytoplankton biomass along the southernBrazilian coast during October 1987 and September 1988. In this productive area, variability of phytoplankton biomass has been related to the seasonal latitudinal displacement of the SubtropicalConvergence and to the freshwateroutflow of La Plata River and Patos Lagoon. Very distinct precipitation rates, as a consequence of the ENSO (El Nin˜o-Southern Oscillation) cycle, preceding the two sampled periods of this study, allowed a first evaluation of the impact of this event on freshwateroutflow and shelf phytoplankton biomass. The amount of chlorophyll in shelf waters was directly related to nutrients supplied by the Coastal Water (i.e. freshwateroutflow), Subtropical and Subantarctic Waters. Comparing the results of this study with previous cruises performed in the area, it was found that high chl a concentrations are common features during periods of elevated precipitation rates. Apart from nutrient input by freshwater and the consequent changes in the vertical profiles of density, the extreme precipitation rates are also associated with different wind patterns, which, in turn, control the presence of particular water masses in the euphotic zone. Our results suggest that ENSO events have an important impact on the variability of phytoplankton production, and thus should affect biogeochemical cycles in the southernBrazilian coastal areas.

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