Biogeosciences (May 2024)

Hydrodynamic and biochemical impacts on the development of hypoxia in the Louisiana–Texas shelf – Part 1: roles of nutrient limitation and plankton community

  • Y. Ou,
  • Y. Ou,
  • Z. G. Xue,
  • Z. G. Xue,
  • Z. G. Xue

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 21
pp. 2385 – 2424


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A three-dimensional coupled hydrodynamic–biogeochemical model with multiple nutrient and plankton functional groups was developed and adapted to the Gulf of Mexico to investigate the role of nutrients and the complexity of plankton community in dissolved oxygen (DO) dynamics. A 15-year hindcast was achieved covering the period of 2006–2020. Extensive model validation against in situ data demonstrates that the model was capable of reproducing vertical distributions of DO and spatial distributions of bottom DO concentration, as well as their interannual variations. The study demonstrates that bottom DO dynamics and hypoxia evolution are significantly influenced by both physical processes and local biochemistry, with sedimentary oxygen consumption and vertical diffusion identified as key contributors. Summer hydrodynamics play a critical role in nutrient distribution and limitation: a notable expansion of Si limitation was simulated when coastal currents shifted eastward or northward. This effect, especially pronounced on the western part of the Louisiana–Texas shelf, underscores the importance of nutrient limitation in shaping DO dynamics. The model identifies a bi-peak primary production pattern in spring and early summer, aligned with satellite chlorophyll a variations, attributed to the complexity of the plankton community and interactions among different plankton groups. Our findings emphasize the necessity of integrating sophisticated plankton community dynamics into biogeochemical models to understand primary production variability and its impact on bottom hypoxia.