MEPS 191:43-51 (1999)  -  doi:10.3354/meps191043

Remote sensing observations of winter phytoplankton blooms southwest of the Luzon Strait in the South China Sea

Dan-Ling Tang1,*, I-Hsun Ni2, Dana R. Kester3, Frank E. Müller-Karger4

1Department of Biology, The Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, Hong Kong; and Department of Biology, Jinan University, Guangzhou, China
2Department of Biology, The Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, Hong Kong, China
3Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett, Rhode Island, USA
4Department of Marine Science, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
*E-mail:

ABSTRACT: The Luzon Strait is a channel between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea. This area is traditionally classified as an oligotrophic zone with low primary productivity. Even so, high concentrations of pigment were detected 100 km southwest of the Strait through analysis of historical Coastal Zone Color Scanner (CZCS) data that the Nimbus-7 satellite collected during the winters of 1979 to 1986. These blooms were observed in December 1979, February 1983, February 1985, and January 1986, when sea surface temperatures measured with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAAs) Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) were 23 to 25°C, the lowest in the year. High pigment concentrations (1 to 3 mg m-3) persisted for at least 1 to 3 wk and extended over areas of about 100 x 200 km2. Results of oceanographic survey published in 1995 also showed that a high chlorophyll a concentration (~2.0 mg m-3) occurred in the winter of 1980 in this region. The winter phytoplankton blooms in this area appeared to be related to upwelling, which brings nutrients to the surface waters and lowers the water temperature.


KEY WORDS: Phytoplankton blooms · CZCS · Upwelling · Luzon Strait · South China Sea


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