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Defining the seaward extent of New Zealand’s coastal zone
journal contributionposted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by M Gibbs, A Hobday, B Sanderson, Chad HewittChad Hewitt
The seaward extent of New Zealand’s coastal zone (defined here in a biophysical sense as the area of terrigenous influence) was determined from remotely sensed ocean colour and turbidity data. The cross-shore behavior of the colour and turbidity fields were quantified at a number of transects around the coastline and the locations where these fields changed from coastal to oceanic signatures were identified. Results from these analyses suggest that the coastal zone can extend several hundreds of kilometers offshore. Furthermore, the seaward extent determined from these analyses was not correlated to the underlying bathymetry of the continental shelf and slope; features commonly used to define the offshore extent of coastal zones. The estimated seaward limits determined from the analyses of the remotely sensed data were compared to limited available in situ data and predictions from a numerical circulation model. Observations of coastal zooplankton species several hundreds of kilometers offshore suggest good agreement with the predicted seaward extent of coastal zones determined from the remotely sensed data. Offshore transport of surface particles predicted by the circulation model also suggested that pelagic organisms and suspended inorganic particles may be advected offshore at least several hundreds of kilometers.