River Influences on Shelf Ecosystems (RISE) is the first comprehensive interdisciplinary study of the rates and dynamics governing the mixing of river and coastal waters in an eastern boundary current system, as well as the effects of the resultant plume on phytoplankton standing stocks, growth and grazing rates, and community structure. The RISE Special Volume presents results deduced from four field studies and two different numerical model applications, including an ecosystem model, on the buoyant plume originating from the Columbia River. This introductory paper provides background information on variability during RISE field efforts as well as a synthesis of results, with particular attention to the questions and hypotheses that motivated this research. RISE studies have shown that the maximum mixing of Columbia River and ocean water occurs primarily near plume liftoff inside the estuary and in the near field of the plume. Most plume nitrate originates from upwelled shelf water, and plume phytoplankton species are typically the same as those found in the adjacent coastal ocean. River-supplied nitrate can help maintain the ecosystem during periods of delayed upwelling. The plume inhibits iron limitation, but nitrate limitation is observed in aging plumes. The plume also has significant effects on rates of primary productivity and growth (higher in new plume water) and microzooplankton grazing (lower in the plume near field and north of the river mouth); macrozooplankton concentration (enhanced at plume fronts); offshelf chlorophyll export; as well as the development of a chlorophyll "shadow zone" off northern Oregon.
- coastal processes
- ecosystem dynamics