Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Articles

Predicting High-Frequency Upwelling: Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Temperature Anomalies on a Florida Coral Reef

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Continental Shelf Research



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Temperature extremes, Return times, Upwelling, Coral reefs


High-frequency measurements reveal a rapidly changing, highly variable temperature regime on the slope of Conch Reef, a coral reef in the upper Florida Keys, USA. Water temperatures 1 m above the reef were measured at 20 min intervals at 21 and 33 m depths from 1992 through 1997, for all of 1992 at 7 m depth and 1997 at 10 m. While the annual variation in dailyaveraged temperatures was approximately 10°C in most years (Winter lows near 20°C to Summer highs near 30°C), temperature fluctuations as large as 6 to 10°C were recorded within individual days. Temperature variation is concentrated at semi-diurnal internal tidal frequencies, with a variety of mechanisms including internal tides, internal tidal bores, and cold water intrusions most likely related to variability of the Florida Current influencing high-frequency upwelling at this site. An analysis of extreme values in the long-term temperature records is used to predict return times for cold water upwelling events at depths of 7, 21, and 33 m. This analysis provides quantitative, seasonal estimates for among-depth differences in the extent of cool water pulsing. Return times for cooling events are shorter in May through September than in October through April, and decrease markedly with increasing depth on the reef slope. In Summer, the predicted median return times for a -3°C temperature anomaly are 136, 14, and 7 days at 7, 21, and 33 m depths, respectively. Predictable physical forcing arising from upwelling of cool water may be an important source of externally derived nutrients and suspended particles for this coral reef. The methods and results presented here should be applicable to a range of studies of temperature variation and nutrient dynamics in the Florida Keys and other regions.







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©1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

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