Upwelling

Northeast ecosystem component

Overview

Upwelling is the upward movement of colder, nutrient-rich bottom water driven by the displacement of the surface layer. In the Mid-Atlantic, input of nutrients to the surface layer drives phytoplankton blooms, and results in high concentrations of particulate organic matter in the water column, where it is broken down through microbial respiration. Recurrent hypoxia regimes along the New Jersey coast are thought to be driven by this process1. Upwelling is also an important process at the continental shelf break, in the eastern Gulf of Maine and the northern edge of Georges Bank, where it supplies surface waters with nutrients and stimulates primary production2.

An upwelling event in the Mid-Atlantic Bight with concurrent chlorophyll a production.
A time lapse of temperature (right) and chlorophyll α concentration (left) during an upwelling event in the Mid-Atlantic.
 

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    1. 1. Glenn S, Arnone R, Bergmann T, Bissett WP, Crowley M, Cullen J, Gryzmski J, Haidvogel D, Kohut J, Moline M, Oliver M, Orrico C, Sherrell R, Song T, Weidemann A, Chant R, Schofield O (2004) Biogeochemical impact of summertime coastal upwelling on the New Jersey Shelf. J Geophys Res C Ocean 109:1–15.

    2. 2. Townsend D, Thomas A, Mayerm L, Thomsas M (2004) Oceanography of the northweast Atlantic continental shelf. In: The Sea: The Global Coastal Ocean: Interdisciplinary Regional Studies and Syntheses. Harvard University Press.