Seasonal evolution of the nutrient pattern on Biscay Bay continental shelf over the years 1999-2000


  • Sophie Loyer Atlantide, Technopôle Brest Iroise, site du Vernis
  • Luis Lampert IFREMER, DEL/PB, Port-en-Bessin, France.
  • Alain Menesguen IFREMER, DEL/ EC, Plouzané, France.
  • Philippe Cann IFREMER, DEL/ EC, Plouzané, France.
  • Thierry Labasque EPSHOM, CMO, Brest, France.



Bay of Biscay, coastal water, river inputs, nutrients


The French Atlantic shelf is subjected to strong anthropic influences (urban, industrial and agricultural discharges) of two main rivers (Loire and Gironde). The extension and consequences of these continental loadings for the nutrient and chlorophyll distribution have never been studied before on the Bay of Biscay continental shelf as a whole. We present the first synoptic view of the nutrient distribution and evolution on the French Atlantic shelf. Nutrient concentrations of the surface layer were studied during four cruises in April, June, September 1999 and March 2000. Until June, the freshwater inputs induce a nitrate gradient from river mouths to offshore waters in the vicinity of the 100 m isobath. The Redfield’s ratio study highlights the nitrate excess in river loadings. The early spring situation is characterised by high N:P ratios in front of the two estuaries and by a potential Si-limitation in the northern part. Nitrate removal continues in spite of the P-limitation and the increase in silicate concentrations during summer supposes high regeneration processes. At the end of summer, the water column is thermally stratified and the surface mixed layer is totally depleted in nitrate.


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How to Cite

Loyer S, Lampert L, Menesguen A, Cann P, Labasque T. Seasonal evolution of the nutrient pattern on Biscay Bay continental shelf over the years 1999-2000. scimar [Internet]. 2006Mar.30 [cited 2023Dec.2];70(1):31-46. Available from:




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