The transport of nutrient-rich Indian ocean water through the red sea and into coastal reef systems

James H. Churchill*, Amy S. Bower, Daniel C. McCorkle, Yasser Abualnaja

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations

Abstract

Driven by upwelling-favorable monsoon winds, nutrient-rich Gulf of Aden Intermediate Water (GAIW) enters the Red Sea from the Indian Ocean each summer. Hydrographic and velocity data acquired in autumn 2011 provide the first indication that GAIW is carried rapidly northward along the eastern Red Sea margin in a well-defined subsurface current with speeds >30 cm s. The nutrient-rich (NO 2 + NO 3 concentrations up to 17 μmol l -1 ) GAIW overlaps the euphotic zone and appears to fuel enhanced productivity over depths of 35-67 m. GAIW is broadly distributed through the Red Sea, extending northward along the eastern Red Sea boundary to ~24°N and carried across the Red Sea in the circulation of a basin-scale eddy. Of particular significance is the observed incursion of GAIW into coastal areas with dense coral formations, suggesting that GAIW could be an important source of new nutrients to coral reef ecosystems of the Red Sea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-181
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Marine Research
Volume72
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography

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