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Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

Julia Hopkins, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Quantifying the Propagation of the Amazon River Plume in the Western Tropical North Atlantic


The Amazon River plume has a significant impact on the biochemistry of the western tropical North Atlantic. It brings nutrients and organic matter to aquatic ecosystems where ocean currents structure communities. Therefore, in order to understand this biochemical impact we explore the physical aspects of the plume which dictate its interactions with the surrounding ocean waters. We specifically focus on quantifying plume volume and age, ultimately demonstrating the essential use of satellite data for both estimations. Additionally, the analysis of these two physical properties of the plume allows us to derive mathematical relationships correlating plume variables such as sea surface salinity, CDOM, and K490. We use these to improve on previous relationships of salinity and K490 and well as to quantify the decay of CDOM with salinity and time. In the end we gain an understanding of both the propagation of the plume and the fate of several biochemically relevant plume properties over time.

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Postdoctoral researcher at Delft University of Technology