|Seasonality in East Africa's coastal waters|In: Marine Ecology Progress Series. Inter-Research: Oldendorf/Luhe. ISSN 0171-8630, more
Monsoons; Oceanography; East Africa; Marine
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A review of existing literature and data on seasonal patterns in East Africa's coastal waters indicates distinct seasonality in physical, chemical and biological oceanographic parameters. Seasonal patterns are dictated by the behavior of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) which creates 2 distinct seasons - the northeast and southeast monsoons. SE monsoon (March to October) meteorological parameters are characterized by high cloud cover, rainfall, river discharge, terrestrial runoff and wind energy while solar insolation and temperatures are low; SE monsoon oceanographic parameters are characterized by cool water, a deep thermocline, high water-column mixing and wave energy, fast currents, low salinity and high phosphorus. These parameters are reversed during the NE monsoon. Nitrogen availability and planktonic primary productivity are high along the Somali coast and estuarine and river discharge areas during the southeast monsoons due to nutrient upwelling and terrestrial runoff. In near-shore waters off Tanzania, nitrogen fixation is the major source of nitrogen and is highest during NE monsoons when the water column is stable. Coral reef benthic algal biomass and diversity is greatest during the SE monsoons. Fish catch and reproduction are highest during NE monsoons in Kenya and Tanzania. Transition periods between monsoons may also be important times in determining productivity and reproduction.