Spatial and temporal variation in surface nitrate and phosphate in the Northern Gulf of Mexico over 35 years

Kailani G. Acosta, Andrew R. Juhl, Ajit Subramaniam, Solange Duhamel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dissolved inorganic nutrient concentrations in the surface waters (0 to 5 m) of the Northern Gulf of Mexico (NGoM) were analyzed from 1985 to 2019 (> 10,000 observations) to determine spatiotemporal trends and their connection to nutrients supplied from the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River (MAR). In the NGoM, annual mean dissolved inorganic P (DIP) concentrations increased significantly over time, while dissolved inorganic N (DIN) concentrations showed no temporal trend. With greater salinity, mean DIN:DIP decreased from above the Redfield ratio of 16 to below it, reflecting DIN losses and the more conservative behavior of DIP with salinity. Over the same time period, annual mean P (total dissolved P, DIP, dissolved organic P) loading from the MAR to the NGoM significantly increased, annual mean DIN and total dissolved N loading showed no temporal trend, and dissolved organic N loading significantly decreased. Though DIP increased in the MAR, MAR DIP alone was insufficient to explain the surface distribution of DIP with salinity. Therefore, increases in surface DIP in the NGoM are not simply a reflection of increasing MAR DIP, pointing to temporal changes in other DIP sources. The increase in NGoM DIP suggests greater N limitation for phytoplankton, with implications for N fixation and nutrient management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7305
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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