Phytoplankton bloom and subpolar gyre induced dynamics in the North Atlantic

Ana Sofia Ferreira, Hjálmar Hátún, Francois Counillion, Mark Payne, Andre Visser

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Abstract

Several hypotheses have been promoted for phytoplankton bloom onset in the North Atlantic. First we show that the bloom dynamics in the northeastern corner stand out from the rest of the subpolar Atlantic, and thus warrants focused attention. We hypothesized that, for this region, late and weak blooms are expected in years of a strong subpolar gyre, i.e. strong atmospheric forcing, and cold and low saline conditions. We apply novel phenology algorithms to satellite ocean colour data, and analyse the outcome together with the subpolar gyre index.
We find that the relationship between the bloom dynamics and the subpolar gyre is complex, showing no clear spatial pattern. Our hypothesis is therefore partly refuted, probably due to the disparity in the temporal and spatial resolutions of the subpolar gyre index, compared to indices describing spring bloom dynamics. The annually averaged gyre index represents the integrated oceanic dynamics over the Northern North Atlantic, while the timing of the spring bloom is more governed by direct atmospheric forcing during the pre-bloom weeks.
We, therefore, further investigate which published theories (Sverdrup [1953], Siegel et al [2002], Huisman et al [2002], Townsend et al [1994], and Taylor and Ferrari [2011]) for bloom onset are suited for this region. We construct indicator fields and time series which in various combinations provide models consistent with the principle dynamics proposed in these theories. Using a multi-model inference approach, we investigate the spatially dependent ranking of these models. It appears that that different theories apply at different regions within the North-East Atlantic, depending on the local physical dynamics
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventESSAS Annual Science Meeting - University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 7 Apr 20149 Apr 2014

Conference

ConferenceESSAS Annual Science Meeting
LocationUniversity of Copenhagen
Country/TerritoryDenmark
CityCopenhagen
Period07/04/201409/04/2014

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