The seasonal variability of bio-optical and physical properties within the upper ocean at a site in the Sargasso Sea (34-degrees-N, 70-degrees-W) has been observed using multivariable moored systems (MVMS) during a 9-month period (March through November 1987). In addition, complementary meteorological data, sea surface height (Geosat) and sea surface temperature maps, and expendable bathythermograph (XBT) and shipboard profile data (physical and bio-optical) have been utilized for interpretation. The observations during March are characteristic of late wintertime conditions of a deep isothermal layer (approximately 18-19-degrees-C), but with intervening periods of warming due to the advection of warm outbreak waters associated with Gulf Stream meanders. The mixed layer depth shoals from greater than 160 m to about 25 m in late March (spring transition). Phytoplankton blooms follow the mixed layer shoaling. A succession of phytoplankton populations occurs during this transitional interval. Mesoscale variability associated with cold core rings and warm outbreak waters associated with the Gulf Stream are evident at various times. The mixed layer remains near 25 m for the summer and deepens in mid-September. A relatively intense subsurface maximum in chlorophyll develops at approximately 75 m following the spring transition. The maximum persists, but weakens in mid-summer. The present study clearly indicates that important processes associated with, and contributing to the seasonal cycle occur on short time and space scales and that integrated data sets obtained from moorings, ships, and satellites can be used to effectively study bio-optical and physical phenomena on tome scales from minutes to seasons.
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