The role of open ocean boundary forcing on seasonal to decadal-scale variability and long-term change of natural shelf hypoxia,
P. M. S. Monteiro, B. Dewitte, M. I. Scranton, A. Paulmier and A. K. van der Plas.
In this study we investigate the possible reasons for the widespread differences between the seasonal cycles of carbon production and export compared to those of hypoxia in eastern boundary upwelling systems. An idealized model is proposed that qualitatively characterizes the relative roles of physics and biogeochemical fluxes. The model is tested on three contrasting upwelling systems: the Benguela (from relatively aerated to interannual anoxic), the Humboldt (sub-oxic and interannually anoxic) and the Cariaco (permanently anoxic). Overall we propose that shelf hypoxia variability can be explained on the basis of the interaction between ventilation by ocean boundary forcing through ocean–shelf exchange and the role of shelf geometry in the retention of shelf-based particulate organic carbon (POC) fluxes. We aim to identify the hypoxia regimes associated with low ventilation—wide-shelf systems and high ventilation—narrow-shelf systems, considering them as extremes of conditions controlled by the two factors. We propose that this may help to explain differences in the seasonal cycles of the biogeochemical drivers and responses as well as difference between upwelling systems and within individual upwelling systems. It is suggested that when seasonal hypoxia emerges it does so preferentially at a wide-shelf part of a system.