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As part of the Episodic Events Great Lakes Experiment, we sampled total suspended matter (TSM), light climate, nutrients, and plankton along cross-margin transects in southern Lake Michigan during February, March, and April 1998-2000 to capture conditions before, during, and after the occurrence of storm-driven recurrent coastal sediment plumes to define the anatomy of the resuspension events and get insights into their interactions with nutrients and plankton. Variability in timing and strength of winter storms among years led to different timing, intensity, and extent of plumes among years. TSM concentrations in the core of plumes varied between 15 and 30 mg L(-1), and photic depth was reduced to similar to 1 to 2 m, thus potentially seriously limiting phytoplankton growth in plume areas. Total P concentration was highly correlated with TSM and river influence. Chlorophyll concentrations were lower in plume regions than in adjacent areas, in contrast to the relatively constant chlorophyll concentration across the plume predicted by a coupled hydrodynamic and nutrient-phytoplankton-zooplankton model. Contrary to expectation, protozoan microzooplankton (MZ) biomass was not more abundant in the plume than adjacent waters, but was highest in nearshore areas receiving river inflow. Storms affected horizontal distribution of zooplankton. Because of the lower concentrations of phytoplankton in the plume, the plume over the short term had a negative impact on zooplankton during this food-limiting season. Our results combined with those of other EEGLE studies lead us to conclude that storms and storm-driven plumes had a negative effect on the planktonic food web.

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Journal of Geophysical Research





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An edited version of this paper was published by AGU. Copyright 2007 American Geophysical Union.

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