National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2004

Satellite and hydrographic observations of the Bering Sea "Green Belt"

Okkonen, S.R., G.M. Schmidt, E.D. Cokelet, and P.J. Stabeno

Deep-Sea Res., 51(10–11), 1033–1051, doi: 10.1016/j.dsr2.2003.08.005 (2004)

Green Belt is the aptly named region ofhigh productivity occurring principally along and above the shelf-slope boundary in the Bering Sea. TOPEX altimeter measurements ofsea-surf ace topography, SeaWiFS imagery of chlorophyll a concentration, and shipboard measurements ofsalinity and .uorescence are used to describe the surface structure ofthe Green Belt and its relationship to the Bering Slope Current eddy .eld during the 2000, 2001, and 2002 spring blooms. During spring 2000, high surface chlorophyll a concentrations (>10 mg m–3) were observed within a ~200-km wide band adjacent to and seaward ofthe shelfbreak in the northwest Bering Sea. This high concentration chlorophyll band was associated with an anticyclonic eddy group that propagated along isobaths above the continental slope and entrained chlorophyll from the shelf-slope front. During spring 2001, anticyclonic eddies in the northwest Bering Sea had propagated off-slope prior to the onset of the spring bloom and were too far from the shelf-slope front to entrain frontal chlorophyll during the bloom. A second chlorophyll front associated with the leading edge of the offslope eddies was observed. Between these two fronts was a region of relatively low chlorophyll a concentration (~1 mg m–3). The eddy .eld during the 2002 spring bloom was observed to propagate northwestward adjacent to the shelf-break and entrain chlorophyll from the shelf-slope region in a manner similar to what was observed during the 2000 spring bloom. These observations suggest that eddies are important, ifnot the principal, agents that cause variability in the distribution ofchlorophyll during the spring bloom in the central Bering Sea.

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