Journal of Oceanography

, Volume 69, Issue 6, pp 753–767 | Cite as

Along-coast shifts of plankton blooms driven by riverine inputs of nutrients and fresh water onto the coastal shelf: a model simulation

  • Yasuhiro HoshibaEmail author
  • Yasuhiro Yamanaka
Original Article


Rivers transport nutrients and suspended sediment matter (SSM) as well as fresh water from land to coastal regions, where the biological productivity is high. In the coastal area, the buoyancy of fresh water leads to the formation of horizontal anticyclonic gyres and vertical circulations, which affect the variation of biological production such as plankton blooms. However, the primary production caused by the 3-D dynamics have not been quantitatively discussed, and observations can hardly capture the daily temporal variations of phytoplankton blooms. We developed an ocean general circulation model including a simple ecosystem model, to investigate the 3-D and temporal changes in phytoplankton blooms caused by riverine input such as flooding. The distribution patterns of nutrients and phytoplankton differ significantly from that of fresh water. The phytoplankton maxima shift from the downstream (right-hand side of the river mouth) to the upstream regions (left-hand side of the river mouth). The shift that occurs is categorized by the different nitrate origins: (1) river-originated nitrate is dominant in the downstream region; (2) subsurface-originated nitrate is dominant in the upstream region, and is transported by upwelling associated with vertical circulation and horizontal anticyclonic gyre; and (3) regenerated nitrate is dominant in the upstream region. The total primary production in phytoplankton blooms is maintained not only by river-originated nitrate but also by subsurface-originated nitrate that is 1.5 times larger than the river-originated. Several case studies (e.g., including SSM) were conducted in this study.


Coastal ocean Biogeochemical cycles 3-D modeling Riverine input Nutrient supply Phytoplankton bloom Color tracer 



We deeply thank to Dr. Genta Mizuta of the Faculty of Environmental Earth Science, Hokkaido University for helping with the model settings and discussions. We are very grateful to Dr. Atsushi Kubokawa, Dr. Isao Kudo and Dr. Tomohisa Irino of the Faculty of Environmental Earth Science, Hokkaido University for discussing the physics of river plumes, advising on biogeochemical cycle in ROFI and providing the information on empirical coefficients in Tokachi River, respectively. We would also like to thank to Dr. Yutaka Isoda of the Faculty of Fisheries Sciences, Hokkaido University for discussing the physics of ROFI. Yasuhiro Hoshiba was supported by the Grant-in-Aid for the Global COE Program from MEXT and by Development of mitigation and adaptation techniques to global warming in the sectors of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries as a research assistant. Yasuhiro Yamanaka was also supported by Core Research for Evolutional Science and Technology (CREST), Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST).


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Copyright information

© The Oceanographic Society of Japan and Springer Japan 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Environmental ScienceHokkaido UniversitySapporoJapan
  2. 2.Faculty of Environmental Earth ScienceHokkaido UniversitySapporoJapan

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