Spatiotemporal development of physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of stormwater plumes in Santa Monica Bay, California (USA)

Alina A. Corcoran*, Kristen M. Reifel, Burton Jones, Rebecca F. Shipe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study characterized stormwater plume development and associated phytoplankton dynamics in a coastal marine ecosystem through shipboard monitoring. We focused on plumes within Santa Monica Bay, California (USA), a coastal system that is subject to rapid pulses of untreated runoff from the urbanized watershed of Los Angeles during the winter rainy season. The physical, chemical, and biological signatures of stormwater plumes were tracked over time after each of 4 precipitation events ranging in magnitude from 1.5 cm to 9 cm. Low salinity surface plumes persisted in Santa Monica Bay for at least 2 to 5 days over spatial scales of up to 15 km. This is consistent with a 6-day residence time for surface water plume parcels, which was estimated from a drifter trajectory in the bay. Shipboard sampling and salinity measurements in the surf zone showed that plumes often persisted even longer nearshore. Plume waters were generally characterized by higher concentrations of dissolved nitrogen, colored dissolved organic matter, and higher light attenuation than non-plume waters. The magnitude of the effect of stormwater runoff on phytoplankton dynamics was dependent on the size of each storm and subsequent residence time of runoff within the bay. Rain events led to increases in primary productivity, phytoplankton biomass, and specifically, increases in diatom biomass, as measured by concentrations of biogenic silica.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-142
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Sea Research
Volume63
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2010

Keywords

  • Ballona Creek
  • Biogenic Silica
  • CDOM
  • California
  • Phytoplankton
  • Plumes
  • Runoff
  • Santa Monica Bay
  • Southern California Bight
  • Stormwater
  • USA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science

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