An Analysis of Diffuse Light Attenuation in the Northern Gulf of Mexico Hypoxic Zone Using the SeaWiFS Satellite Data Record
NAVAL RESEARCH LAB STENNIS DETACHMENT STENNIS SPACE CENTER MS OCEANOGRAPHY DIV
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The Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-View Sensor SeaWiFS derived diffuse light attenuation along the Louisiana continental shelf LCS was examined at monthly scales from 1998 to 2007 to characterize temporal and spatial patterns, and responsible physical forcing conditions. The SeaWiFS diffuse light attenuation ranged from 0.10 to 2.64 m-1. Stepwise multiple linear regression analysis suggested that spatial and temporal patterns in diffuse light attenuation were influenced by wind speed, nutrient loading, and river discharge from the Mississippi and Atchafalaya River Basin. SeaWiFS daily integrated surface photosynthetically active radiation PAR, 400-700 nm and diffuse light attenuation were used to calculate the absolute PAR and percentage of surface PAR that reached the sediment water interface SWI on the LCS. Large portions of the LCS were euphotic to the SWI especially during April and May. This finding implied that significant primary production was possible beneath the pycnocline during spring and early summer. In addition, this study was the first to demonstrate that the euphotic depth was correlated to the depth at which the water column turned hypoxic on the LCS. The development of hypoxic waters may be influenced by decreased light availability below the pycnocline in addition to aforementioned physical forcing.