Pan, XJ; Wong, GTF; Shiah, FK; Ho, TY (2012). Enhancement of biological productivity by internal waves: observations in the summertime in the northern South China Sea. JOURNAL OF OCEANOGRAPHY, 68(3), 427-437.
Streaks of elevated concentrations of surface chlorophyll a (Chl_a) of various spacing were found to be associated with internal waves in their transmission zone and dissipation zone in the summertime in the deep open northern South China Sea. At an anchored station in the dissipation zone north of the Dongsha Atoll with a water depth of ca. 600 m, undulations of the mixed layer depth with an amplitude of ca. 30 m and a periodicity of ca. 12 h were observed, and they were accompanied by similar undulation in the isotherm and isopleth of the nutrients. These observations are consistent with the enhancement of vertical mixing by internal waves and the resulting transfer of cold, nutrient-rich subsurface water to the surface mixed layer to fuel biological productivity. In the transmission zone and dissipation zone, respectively, the summertime (May-October) average sea surface temperature was 0.5 and 0.8 degrees C lower and Chl_a was 19 and 43 % higher than those in a nearby subregion that was minimally affected by internal waves. The mean net primary productivity was elevated by 15 and 37 %. These results indicate that the enhancement of biological activity by internal waves is not confined to the shallow waters on the shelf. The effect can be detected in all phases of the internal waves although it may be especially prominent in the dissipation zone where mixing between subsurface and surface waters is more effective.