Biogeochemical cycles in estuaries are regulated by a diverse set of physical and biological variables that operate over a variety of time scales. Using in situ
optical sensors, we conducted a high-frequency time-series study of several biogeochemical parameters at a mooring in central Long Island Sound from May to August 2010. During this period, we documented well-defined diel cycles in nitrate concentration that were correlated to dissolved oxygen, wind stress, tidal mixing, and irradiance. By filtering the data to separate the nitrate time series into various signal components, we estimated the amount of variation that could be ascribed to each process. Primary production and surface wind stress explained 59 and 19%, respectively, of the variation in nitrate concentrations. Less frequent physical forcings, including large-magnitude wind events and spring tides, served to decouple the relationship between oxygen, nitrate, and sunlight on about one quarter of study days. Daytime nitrate minima and dissolved oxygen maxima occurred nearly simultaneously on the majority (>80 %) of days during the study period; both were strongly correlated with the daily peak in irradiance. Nighttime nitrate maxima reflected a pattern in which surface-layer stocks were depleted each afternoon and recharged the following night. Changes in nitrate concentrations were used to generate daily estimates of new primary production (182 ± 37 mg C m-2
) and the ƒ ratio (0.25), i.e., the ratio of production based on nitrate to total production. These estimates, the first of their kind in Long Island Sound, were compared to values of community respiration, primary productivity, and net ecosystem metabolism, which were derived from in situ measurements of oxygen concentration. Daily averages of the three metabolic parameters were 1,660 ± 431, 2,080 ± 419, and 429 ± 203 mg C m-2
, respectively. While the system remained weakly autotrophic over the duration of the study period, we observed very large day-to-day differences in the ƒ ratio and in the various metabolic parameters.
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