National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2008

Origins of the subsurface ammonium maximum in the southeast Bering Sea

Mordy, C.W., P.J. Stabeno, D. Righi, and F.A. Menzia

Deep-Sea Res. II, 55(16–17), 1738-1744, doi: 10.1016/j.dsr2.2008.03.005 (2008)

In the Bering Sea, it has long been argued that ammonium-rich bottom water from the middle shelf of Bristol Bay is tidally diffused seaward resulting in a mid-depth ammonium tongue over the outer shelf. Weak horizontal mean flows in the region (relative to an especially strong tidal component) support this contention. We examined the distribution of ammonium further north in the vicinity of the Pribilof Islands. On the middle shelf, bottom waters had concentrations of 4–7 μmol kg⁻¹, and over the outer shelf there was a mid-depth ammonium tongue. Optimal multiparameter analysis of hydrographic data suggested that bottom waters from the middle shelf were prevalent across the outer shelf, and could account for this ammonium tongue. Drifter tracks demonstrated that middle shelf water was incorporated into a westward flow along the shelf break south of St. George Island, and mean flows derived from several decades of drifter tracks also show prominent cross-shelf advection in the region. This was consistent with a scalar argument suggesting that, in the vicinity of the Pribilof Islands, the seaward movement of middle shelf water, and loss of nitrogen over the middle shelf, was the result of advection rather than tidally driven lateral diffusion.

Feature Publications | Outstanding Scientific Publications

Contact Sandra Bigley |