The PRIME 1996 cruise: an overview

Graham Savidge, P.J.L. Williams

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27 Citations (Scopus)


The UK PRIME cruise, June-July 1996 in the NE Atlantic, consisted of two legs. During the first, detailed chemical and biological observations were made in time-series mode adjacent to the centre of a cold-core eddy in the vicinity of 59 degreesN 20 degreesW using SF6 tracer techniques as the basis for the Lagrangian study. The eddy, which appeared to have been formed the previous winter, remained coherent over the 9 days of the survey and advected only slowly. The phytoplankton community in the eddy was dominated by the coccolithophorid Coccolithus huxleyi. High microzooplankton grazing rates indicated minimal export losses from the surface layer. Significant shifts in many, but not all, of the chemical and biological properties measured were observed over the course of the experiment, especially after the passage of a storm event, which resulted in considerable deepening of the mixed layer followed by a return to fully stratified conditions. The second leg consisted of a transect from 59 degreesN 20 degreesW to 37 degreesN 19 degreesW, with a further Lagrangian time-series study based on a drogue marker initiated at the southern end of the transect. Maximal biological activity was generally encountered in the region between two fronts located at 52.5 degreesN and 48 degreesN, while to the south of 48 degreesN oligotrophic conditions prevailed. At the southern Lagrangian site, a deep chlorophyll maximum was present and high column new production was recorded as a result of the euphotic zone extending below the depth of the nutricline. Microzooplankton grazing rates were lower at this location than at the northern eddy site. The influx of a warm, saline water body into the upper layers during the southern survey led to a major shift in many of the biological and chemical properties being measured. At both the northern and southern Lagrangian sites, the biomass of the mesozooplankton exceeded that of the microzooplankton. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687-704
Number of pages18
Issue number4-5
Publication statusPublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Geology
  • Oceanography


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