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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 12 Feb 2018

Research article | 12 Feb 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Ocean Science (OS).

Physical Modulation to the Biological Productivity in the Summer Vietnam Upwelling System

Wenfang Lu1,2,3,4, Enhui Liao2,3,4,6, Xiao-Hai Yan3,4, Lie-Yauw Oey5,6, Wei Zhuang2,4, and Yuwu Jiang2,4 Wenfang Lu et al.
  • 1Key Laboratory of Spatial Data Mining and Information Sharing of Ministry of Education, & National Engineering Research Centre of Geo-spatial Information Technology, Fuzhou University, Fuzhou, 350116, China
  • 2State Key Laboratory of Marine Environmental Science, College of Ocean and Earth Sciences, Xiamen University, Xiamen, 361102, China
  • 3Center for Remote Sensing, College of Earth, Ocean and Environment, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA
  • 4Joint Institute for Coastal Research and Management, University of Delaware/Xiamen University, USA/China
  • 5National Central University, Jhongli City, Taoyuan County, Taiwan
  • 6Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, USA

Abstract. Biological productivity in the summer Vietnam boundary upwelling system in the western South China Sea, as in many coastal upwelling systems, is strongly modulated by wind. However, the role of ocean circulation and mesoscale eddies has not been elucidated. Here we show a close spatio-temporal covariability between primary production and kinetic energy. High productivity is associated with high kinetic energy, which accounts for ~15% of the production variability. Results from a physical-biological coupled model reveal that the elevated kinetic energy and intensified circulation can be explained by the separation of the upwelling current system. The separated current forms an eastward jet into the interior South China Sea, and the associated southern gyre traps nutrient and favors productivity. When separation is absent, the model shows weakened circulation and eddy activity, with ~21% less nitrate inventory and ~16% weaker primary productivity.

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Short summary
In this study, we investigate the physical factors controlling the biological production in a coastal upwelling system, the Vietnam Boundary Upwelling System in the South China Sea. We found that, in addition to the effects from the wind (as a major factor driving the ocean), the ocean circulation could also contribute positively to the production here, which is distinct from other major coastal upwelling systems.
In this study, we investigate the physical factors controlling the biological production in a...