The role of sediment-induced light attenuation on primary production during Hurricane Gustav (2008)

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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. We introduced a sediment-induced light attenuation algorithm into a biogeochemical model of the Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere-Wave-Sediment Transport (COAWST) modeling system. A fully coupled ocean-atmospheric- sediment-biogeochemical simulation was carried out to assess the impact of sediment-induced light attenuation on primary production in the northern Gulf of Mexico during the passage of Hurricane Gustav in 2008. When compared with model results without sediment-induced light attenuation, our new model showed a better agreement with satellite data on both the magnitude of nearshore chlorophyll concentration and the spatial distribution of offshore bloom. When Hurricane Gustav approached, resuspended sediment shifted the inner shelf ecosystem from a nutrientlimited one to a light-limited one. Only 1 week after Hurricane Gustav's landfall, accumulated nutrients and a favorable optical environment induced a posthurricane algal bloom in the top 20m of the water column, while the productivity in the lower water column was still light-limited due to slow-settling sediment. Corresponding with the elevated offshore NO3 flux (38.71 mmolNm1 s1) and decreased chlorophyll flux (43.10 mgm1 s1), the outer shelf posthurricane bloom should have resulted from the crossshelf nutrient supply instead of the lateral dispersed chlorophyll. Sensitivity tests indicated that sediment light attenuation efficiency affected primary production when sediment concentration was moderately high. Model uncertainties due to colored dissolved organic matter and parameterization of sediment-induced light attenuation are also discussed.

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