Articles | Volume 10, issue 12
Biogeosciences, 10, 8159–8170, 2013

Special issue: Biogeochemistry and ecosystems in the western north Pacific...

Biogeosciences, 10, 8159–8170, 2013

Research article 11 Dec 2013

Research article | 11 Dec 2013

Inter-shelf nutrient transport from the East China Sea as a major nutrient source supporting winter primary production on the northeast South China Sea shelf

A. Q. Han1,2, M. H. Dai1, J. P. Gan3, S.-J. Kao1, X. Z. Zhao3, S. Jan4, Q. Li1, H. Lin1, C.-T. A. Chen5, L. Wang1, J. Y. Hu1, L. F. Wang1, and F. Gong6 A. Q. Han et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Marine Environmental Science, Xiamen University, Xiamen, China
  • 2Third Institute of Oceanography, State Oceanic Administration, Xiamen, China
  • 3Division of Environment, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China
  • 4Institute of Oceanography, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 5Institute of Marine Geology and Chemistry, National Sun Yat-Sen University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
  • 6State Key Laboratory of Satellite Ocean Environment Dynamics, Second Institute of Oceanography, State Oceanic Administration, Hangzhou, China

Abstract. The East China Sea (ECS) and the South China Sea (SCS) are two major marginal seas of the North Pacific with distinct seasonal variations of primary productivity. Based upon field observations covering both the ECS and the northern SCS (NSCS) during December 2008–January 2009, we examined southward long-range transport of nutrients from the ECS to the northeastern SCS (NESCS) carried by the China Coastal Current (CCC) driven by the prevailing northeast monsoon in wintertime. These escaped nutrients from the ECS shelf, where primary production (PP) was limited in winter, might however refuel the PP on the NESCS shelf at lower latitude, where the water temperature remained favorable, but river-sourced nutrients were limited. By combining the field observation of nitrate+nitrite (NO3+NO2, DIN) with our best estimate of volume transport of the CCC, we derived a first-order estimate for DIN flux of 1430 ± 1024 mol s−1. Under the assumption that DIN was the limiting nutrient, such southward DIN transport would have stimulated 8.84 ± 6.33 × 1011 gC of new production (NP), accounting for 33–74% of the NP or 14–22% of PP in winter on the NESCS shelf shallower than 100 m.

Final-revised paper