Hurricanes and Oceanic Phytoplankton Blooms

Analysis using SeaWiFS and MODIS data have also demonstrated that Atlantic Ocean hurricanes cause ocean deserts to bloom. The swirling hurricane rakes over the ocean surface and draws nutrient-rich water up from deeper in the ocean - fertilizing the marine desert. For 2-3 weeks following almost every storm, SeaWiFS data showed greater-than-normal phytoplankton growth, stimulated by the additional nutrients brought up to the surface. As an example, SeaWiFS took images of Hurricane Isabel on 13 and 18 September 2003. As the hurricane passed, it left behind it a trail of plankton blooms, evident by the rapid change in chlorophyll amounts. The lighter blue areas in the hurricane's wake represent higher amounts of chlorophyll. An animation of Hurricane Isabel, during 13-18 September 2003, using satellite data, is shown in 62507main_isabel10_320x240.mpg (credit: NASA/ Orbimage).

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