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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 597:79-98 (2018)  -  DOI:

River plume fronts and their implications for the biological production of the Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean

Kusum Komal Karati1,3,*, G. Vineetha1,4, T. V. Raveendran1, K. R. Muraleedharan1, H. Habeebrehman2, K. P. Philson1, C. T. Achuthankutty1

1CSIR-National Institute of Oceanography, Regional Center, Kochi 682018, India
2Calicut University, Kerala 673632, India
3Present address: Centre for Marine Living Resources and Ecology, Kochi 682037, India
4Present address: Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi 682018, India
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Fronts are the physical interface between water masses of distinct hydrographic characteristics and are ubiquitous features of the Bay of Bengal (BoB). They form as a result of receiving high freshwater runoff from many large rivers, but their biological characteristics are mostly unexamined. We determined the distribution of fronts in the BoB during the fall intermonsoon period and examined the physicochemical couplings in the frontal regions and their concomitant effect on biological production. In situ sea surface salinity (SSS) gradients were used to delineate the fronts (threshold of 0.01 psu km-1), and 2 frontal zones with a cross-frontal SSS difference of 1-3 psu were identified. River discharge played a more significant role than direct precipitation in the frontogenesis of this ecosystem. These narrow 3-dimensional boundaries were characterized by a higher nutrient replenishment than in the contiguous non-front zones, and had a higher phytoplankton production. The highest accumulation of zooplankton biomass in water masses of intermediate salinity (31-33 psu) in the frontal regions resulted from the higher food availability and congregation by hydrodynamic convergences.

KEY WORDS: River plume fronts · Bay of Bengal · Chlorophyll a · Primary production · Zooplankton

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Cite this article as: Karati KK, Vineetha G, Raveendran TV, Muraleedharan KR, Habeebrehman H, Philson KP, Achuthankutty CT (2018) River plume fronts and their implications for the biological production of the Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 597:79-98.

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