, Volume 8, Issue 5, pp 367-376

Current patterns in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica and their relationship to local biotic communities

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Summary

Current speed and direction measurements collected during summer (January–February) and sping (November–December) of 1984 indicated that currents in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica were dominated by oscillatory flow associated with diurnal tidal components (O1, K1, P1). Net flow was southward in the eastern Sound, mixed in the central Sound, and northward in the western Sound. Short term observations (<5 days) from nearshore stations indicated a similar but more sluggish pattern of tidal and mean flow. Hydrographic data collected during the same period indicated a similar pattern of cold water with low chlorophyll a content flowing northward from under the Ross Ice Shelf in the western Sound and denser, slightly warmer water with higher chlorophyll a content flowing southward in the eastern Sound. Previous studies have shown that productivity is higher in the eastern Sound than in the west, apparently due to the circulation pattern. The western Sound consists of waters from beneath the Ross Ice Shelf which have a lower phytoplankton standing stock than eastern Sound waters which enter from the north. More sluggish current speeds in the western Sound result in even lower particle fluxes past benthic consumers. Finally, more persistent ice cover in the west further inhibits in situ primary productivity.