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Linking benthic hydrodynamics and cold-water coral occurrences: A high-resolution model study at three cold-water coral provinces in the NE Atlantic
Mohn, C.; Rengstorf, A.; White, M.; Mienis, F.; Soetaert, K.; Grehan, A.; Duineveld, G. (2014). Linking benthic hydrodynamics and cold-water coral occurrences: A high-resolution model study at three cold-water coral provinces in the NE Atlantic. Prog. Oceanogr. 122: 92-104. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pocean.2013.12.003
In: Progress in Oceanography. Pergamon: Oxford,New York,. ISSN 0079-6611, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Mohn, C.
  • Rengstorf, A.
  • White, M.
  • Mienis, F., more
  • Soetaert, K., more
  • Grehan, A.
  • Duineveld, G., more

Abstract
    Observations from numerous cold-water coral locations in the NE Atlantic show energetic near-bottom flow dynamics along the European continental margin at individual coral mounds and mound clusters. Dynamics are largely controlled by tide-topography interaction generating and enhancing periodic motions such as trapped waves, freely propagating internal tides and internal hydraulic jumps. In this study, linkages between key abiotic parameters and cold water coral occurrences are explored across entire cold-water coral mound provinces using an integrated modelling and observational approach. The 3-D ocean circulation model ROMS-AGRIF was applied to simulate near-bottom hydrodynamic conditions at three provinces in the NE Atlantic (Logachev mounds, Arc mounds and Belgica mounds) adopting a nested model setup with a central grid resolution of 250 m. Simulations were carried out with a focus on accurate high-resolution topography and tidal forcing. The central model bathymetry was taken from high-resolution INSS (Irish National Seabed Survey) seafloor mapping data. The model was integrated over a full one-year reference period starting from the 1st January 2010. Interannual variability was not considered. Tidal forcing was obtained from a global solution of the Oregon State University (OSU) inverse tidal model. Modelled fields of benthic currents were validated against available independent in situ observations. Coral assemblage patterns (presence and absence locations) were obtained from benthic surveys of the EU FP7 CoralFISH programme and supplemented by data from additional field surveys. Modelled near-bottom currents, temperature and salinity were analysed for a 1-month subset (15th April to 15th May 2010) corresponding to the main CoralFISH survey period. The model results show intensified near-bottom currents in areas where living corals are observed by contrast with coral absence and random background locations. Instantaneous and time-mean current speeds at mound clusters in the Logachev province exceeded typical values in non-coral areas by up to a factor of three. Currents at cold-water coral locations in the Arc and Belgica mound provinces were less energetic, but still elevated compared to non-coral locations. An analysis of dynamical processes associated with oscillatory flow interacting with topography suggests that these motions are locally important food supply mechanisms to cold-water corals by promoting large amplitude local vertical mixing and organic matter fluxes. It is shown that their presence varies considerably between provinces based on the interplay of topographic slope, flow magnitude and ambient stratification.

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