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Title: An investigation of factors influencing the spatial and temporal distribution of surface phytoplankton in the English Channel and Bay of Biscay in 2003 and 2004
Author: Qurban, Mohammed Ali B.
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2009
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Abstract:
Throughout 2003 and 2004 continuous autonomous observations of surface temperature, conductivity and chlorophyll fluorescence were recorded on the P&O "Pride of Bilbao" ferry between Portsmouth, UK and Bilbao Spain. Different conditions over the shelf, slope and deep waters along the route were detected and studied - from eutrophic harbour waters to the southern Bay of Biscay, which is oligotrophic in summer. During the two years, 21 manned crossings on the ferry provided information on nutrients, phytoplankton biomass and speciation. Measurements include chlorophyll a concentrations (calibration of the fluorimeter is discussed), High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) determined pigments concentrations, phytoplankton species abundance (biomass and identification) and nutrients. Data was also available from satellite images for estimates of chlorophyll (SeaWIFS), zooplankton abundance from CPR (Continuous Plankton Recorder) tows, wind speed and direction and irradiance. This has enabled phytoplankton populations to be related to-: (1) nutrient supply (2) grazing pressure (3) fresh water influences, (4) hydrography and (5) climatic conditions. The distributions of hydrographic properties and of plankton were analysed on the basis of four generalised regions (i) well-mixed, (ii) northern summer stratified, and (iii) southern summer stratified on the shelf and (iv) oceanic region in the Bay of Biscay water. There were differences between the two years in the timing of seasonal changes and in the abundance of phytoplankton species. Chlorophyll a values were generally higher in shelf waters compared to oceanic water in both years. The spring phytoplankton bloom reached its peak during March 2003 in the Bay of Biscay and during April on the continental shelf with maximum chlorophyll values of 2- 4 mg m-3. Whereas, the strong SW wind in Bay of Biscay in winter 2004 may have delayed growth in this region. In the shelf regions in 2004 low salinity values off western France and high solar irradiance in the north are likely to have led to earlier phytoplankton biomass than in 2003. During early summer, the coccolithophore, Emiliania huxlyei (>1000 cells ml-1) was widespread in northern stratified regions, more so in 2003 than in 2004. In the summer of 2003 an exceptional dinoflagellate bloom occurred in the western English Channel. The bloom was composed of a monspecific surface population of Karenia mikimotoi, giving cell densities up to 8000 cells ml-1 and chlorophyll a concentrations up to 70 mg m-3. Development of this dinoflagellate bloom in the western English Channel could be explained in terms of physical stability, and ii low wind speed together with sufficient light and a supply of inorganic nutrients favouring growth of the cells. By contrast, in 2004, the abundance of diatoms was higher than 2003 and K. mikimotoi was common but not at bloom levels (chlorophyll a ~4.0 mg m-3). A mixed diatom-dinoflagellate community was the dominant the final stage in the succession, as the summer thermocline was less well developed. The phytoplankton biomass and composition in 2003 matches the classical model of phytoplankton seasonal succession in temperate waters (Margalef, 1978; Smayda, 1980) but this was not obvious in 2004. In general, the FerryBox system on the Pride of Bilbao in 2003 and 2004 was successful and improved understanding of the relationship between the phytoplankton population and hydrographic regimes in 2003 and 2004 between Portsmouth and Bilbao. Improvements in future might include continuous observations of oxygen and nutrients and more work can be done to link FerryBox data, satellite and CPR based observations.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.500790  DOI: Not available
Keywords: GC Oceanography
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