Shelf‐break upwelling and productivity over the North Kenya Banks: The importance of large‐scale ocean dynamics

Jacobs, Z. L. ORCID:; Jebri, F. ORCID:; Raitsos, D. E.; Popova, E. ORCID:; Srokosz, M. ORCID:; Painter, S. C.; Nencioli, F.; Roberts, M.; Kamau, J.; Palmer, M.; Wihsgott, J. ORCID: 2020 Shelf‐break upwelling and productivity over the North Kenya Banks: The importance of large‐scale ocean dynamics. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 125 (1).

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The North Kenya Banks (NKBs) have recently emerged as a new frontier for food security and could become an economically important fishery for Kenya with improved resources providing better accessibility. Little research has been done on the mechanisms supporting high fish productivity over the NKBs with information on annual and interannual environmental variability lacking. Here we use a high‐resolution, global, biogeochemical ocean model with remote sensing observations to demonstrate that the ocean circulation exerts an important control on the productivity over the NKBs. During the Northeast Monsoon, which occurs from December to February, upwelling occurs along the Kenyan coast, which is topographically enhanced over the NKBs. Additionally, enhanced upwelling events, associated with widespread cool temperatures, elevated chlorophyll, nutrients, primary production, and phytoplankton biomass, can occur over this region. Eight such modeled events, characterized by primary production exceeding 1.3 g C/m−2/day, were found to occur during January or February from 1993–2015. Even though the upwelling is always rooted to the NKBs, the position, spatial extent, and intensity of the upwelling exhibit considerable interannual variability. The confluence zone between the Somali Current and East African Coastal Current (referred to as the Somali‐Zanzibar Confluence Zone) forms during the Northeast Monsoon and is highly variable. We present evidence that when the Somali‐Zanzibar Confluence Zone is positioned further south, it acts to enhance shelf‐edge upwelling and productivity over the NKBs. These findings provide the first indication of the environmental controls that need to be considered when developing plans for the sustainable exploitation of the NKB fishery.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 2169-9275
Date made live: 23 Jan 2020 12:59 +0 (UTC)

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