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Nutrient flux fuels the summer primary productivity in the oligotrophic waters of the Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea

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The thermohaline characteristics of the Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea, depict a welldefined seasonal pattern of winter mixing from December to April and summer stratification from May to November. This thermohaline structure is a major controlling factor of the nutrient, chlorophyll a and primary productivity seasonal cycles. The nitrate and chlorophyll a concentration records generated down to 200 m at a vertical resolution of 25 m – weekly during 1994, 1995 and every two weeks from April 1997 through to December 2000 – are employed to assess the nitrogen flux across the summer thermocline of the Gulf of Aqaba. The flux calculations are based on a simple diffusion model that incorporates the physical stress eddy diffusivity factor Kz and a biological stress factor k. Both Kz and k are calculated using the Michaelis-Menten equation and the nitrate concentration gradient. The total nitrate flux of the Gulf of Aqaba during the seven summer months (May–November) is estimated at 0.52 moleN m−2. In relation to established primary productivity values (75.5 gC m−2 (May November)−1) and the generated chlorophyll a records, this yields an f fraction of new to total primary production of 0.50. This relatively high f value is discussed with respect to the geophysical characteristics of the Gulf of Aqaba and similar oceanic basins. The remaining 50% is accounted for by cross-sectional flow from the relatively nutrientrich coral reef coastal habitat and rapid recycling, triggered by high irradiance and water temperature.
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