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Advection of Karenia Brevis Blooms from the Florida Panhandle towards the Mississippi Bight and Sound

Soto, I. M., Cambazoglu, M. K., Boyette, A. D., Broussard, K., Sheehan, D., Shiller, A. M., Dzwonkowski, B., Howden, S. D., Hode, L., Fitzpatrick, P. J., Arnone, R. A., Mickle, P. F., Jacobs, G. A., & Cressman, K. (2018). Advection of Karenia Brevis Blooms from the Florida Panhandle towards the Mississippi Bight and Sound. Harmful Algae. 72, 46-64.


Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) of Karenia brevis have been documented along coastal waters of every state bordering the Gulf of Mexico (GoM). Some Gulf Coast locations, such as Florida and Texas, suffer from recurrent intense and spatially large blooms, while others such as Mississippi seem to rarely observe them. The main objective of this work is to understand the dynamics that led to the K. brevis bloom in Mississippi coastal waters in fall 2015. Blooms of K. brevis from the Florida Panhandle region are often advected westward towards the Mississippi-Alabama coast; however there is interannual variability in their presence and intensity in Mississippi coastal waters. The 2015 K. brevis bloom was compared to the 2007 Florida Panhandle K. brevis bloom, which showed a westward advection pattern, but did not intensify along the Mississippi coast. Cell counts and flow cytometry were obtained from the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, Alabama Department of Public Health, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and The University of Southern Mississippi. Ocean color satellite imagery from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer onboard the Aqua satellite was used to detect and delineate the blooms in 2007 and 2015. Two different regional applications of NCOM-Navy Coastal Ocean Model (1-km resolution NCOM-GoM/Gulf of Mexico and 6-km resolution NCOM-IASNFS/Intra Americas Sea Nowcast Forecast System) were used to understand the circulation and transport pathways. A Lagrangian particle tracking software was used to track the passive movement of particles released at different locations for both bloom events. Ancillary data (e.g., nutrients, wind, salinity, river discharge) from local buoys, monitoring stations and coincident oceanographic cruises were also included in the analysis. The blooms of K. brevis reached the Mississippi coast both years; however, the bloom in 2007 lasted only a few days and there is no evidence that it entered the Mississippi Sound. Two major differences were observed between both years. First, circulation patterns in 2015 resulting from an intense westward-northwestward that persisted until December allowed for continuous advection, whereas this pattern was not evident in 2007. Second, local river discharge was elevated throughout late fall 2015 while 2007 was below the average. Thus, elevated discharge may have provided sufficient nutrients for bloom intensification. These results illustrate the complex, but important interactions in coastal zones. Further, they emphasize the importance in establishing comprehensive HAB monitoring programs, which facilitate our understanding of nutrient and phytoplankton dynamics, and stress the importance for multi-agency cooperation across state boundaries.

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