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The cause of bright waters in the Bering Sea in winter

Record type: Article

In the last few years, a new sea-viewing satellite has revealed surprising bright expanses of water in the eastern Bering Sea in the middle of winter. Similar bright waters occur in summer, and have been identified as blooms of the coccolithophore phytoplankton Emiliania huxleyi. However, E. huxleyi blooms are an unlikely cause of the bright waters in winter because hostile conditions should prevent any phytoplankton from blooming then. We report the results of in situ sampling that was carried out with the aim of determining the cause of the curious bright winter waters. Samples of water and surface sediment were taken and analysed later using light and electron microscopy and geochemical techniques. The results appear to rule out E. huxleyi coccoliths as the cause of the bright waters, and implicate instead material resuspended from the shallow shelf sediments. In particular, empty and broken-up diatom frustules were seen in abundance and are estimated to be the main light-scattering constituents. The results indicate that resuspension of diatom debris (minus the living cells and their pigments) can produce water colour mimicking the appearance of E. huxleyi blooms

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Citation

Broerse, A.T.C., Tyrrell, T., Young, J.R., Poulton, A.J., Merico, A., Balch, W.M. and Miller, P.I. (2003) The cause of bright waters in the Bering Sea in winter Continental Shelf Research, 23, (16), pp. 1579-1596. (doi:10.1016/j.csr.2003.07.001).

More information

Published date: 2003
Keywords: Bering Sea, Bright waters, Coccolithophores, Diatom fragments, High reflectance, Emiliania huxleyi, Ocean colour, Remote sensing

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 1996
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/1996
ISSN: 0278-4343
PURE UUID: 34d057cb-29b2-4dca-996a-e6070774119c
ORCID for T. Tyrrell: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-1002-1716

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 06 May 2004
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 17:16

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Contributors

Author: A.T.C. Broerse
Author: T. Tyrrell ORCID iD
Author: J.R. Young
Author: A.J. Poulton
Author: A. Merico
Author: W.M. Balch
Author: P.I. Miller

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