On the majestic seasonal upwelling system of the Arafura Sea

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    A three-dimensional hydrodynamic model is applied to explore the development of phytoplankton blooms in the Arafura Sea during the southeast monsoon (June-November). Before this season, blooms are restricted to nearshore waters covering a total area of ˜25,000 km2. Satellite data indicate that the bloom area grows substantially to >90,000 km2 during the southeast monsoon covering most of the northwestern Arafura Sea. Findings confirm that the southeast monsoon creates undercurrents via the classical lee effect driving nutrient-rich Banda Sea slope water into this region. This nutrient-rich slope water is driven over vast distances (˜300 km) into the northwestern Arafura Sea where it upwells and/or is entrained into the surface mixed layer. The associated overturning circulation is slow but continuous and it takes 1-2 months before nutrient-rich water appears in surface waters of the region. The predicted pathways of nutrient-rich inflows across the shelf break both north and south of the Ara Islands agree with observational evidence.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1218-1228
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
    Issue number2
    Early online date15 Dec 2015
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016


    • Arafura Sea
    • large marine ecosystem
    • Lee effect
    • upwelling


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