Navigation Links
Ocean stirring and plankton patchiness

Computer simulations performed by researchers at the National Oceanography Centre and the University of Glasgow show how oceanic stirring and mixing influence the formation and dynamics of plankton patches in the upper ocean.

Tiny free-floating marine plants called phytoplankton live in vast numbers in the sunlit upper ocean. Through the process of photosynthesis, they build carbon compounds such as sugars starting with just water and carbon dioxide, which is thereby drawn down from the atmosphere.

Phytoplankton also need nutrients such as phosphate and iron, shortage of which can limit their population growth. They are also preyed upon by tiny planktonic animals called zooplankton.

"Interactions between phytoplankton, nutrients, zooplankton and the physical environment lead to complex dynamics, which we seek to understand using computer models," explained Emma Guirey, whose work on the problem was done as part of her PhD studies. "These complex dynamics can produce the patchiness of phytoplankton at the ocean surface that is invariably seen in satellite images and observed at sea during research cruises."

Guirey and her colleagues applied the methods of synchronisation theory previously used to explain such phenomena as the co-ordinated flashing of fireflies along whole riverbanks. Initially they studied the balance between localised increases in phytoplankton populations and small-scale mixing, such as that due to breaking waves, in creating patches. Patchiness was found to persist despite the mixing which might be expected to smooth out the patches by blending them together.

The initial studies neglected the effects of stirring, or 'advection' by large scale ocean currents such as the Gulf Stream and Kuroshio, but this is included in the most recent computer simulations. This stirring stretches the patches out into long filaments. However, the patches still resist dispersal.

"What is exciting is that the inclusion of large-scale advection, far from disrupting plankton patchiness, actually creates the kind of filamentary structure that we often observe in real-life plankton populations. Application of synchronisation theory has given us a new perspective on the production of this complex patchiness," said Guirey.


Contact: Dr. Rory Howlett
National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (UK)

Related biology news :

1. TAU scientists probe deep questions aboard EcoOceans environmental research ship
2. NASA celebrates a decade observing climate impacts on health of worlds oceans
3. CO2 emissions could violate EPA ocean-quality standards within decades
4. NASA celebrates a decade observing climate impacts on health of worlds oceans
5. Scientists, policymakers and industry leaders gather to discuss ocean iron fertilization
6. Acid oceans warning
7. Scientists gather in New Zealand to share oceans secrets
8. Unprecedented global measurement network achieves full coverage of oceans
9. Abel to receive posthumous Ocean and Coastal Leadership award
10. Human safety, prosperity depend on better ocean observing system: Scientists
11. Marine scientists warn human safety, prosperity depend on better ocean observing system
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Ocean stirring and plankton patchiness
(Date:11/9/2015)... 2015 ... "Global Law Enforcement Biometrics Market 2015-2019" ... ) has announced the addition ... Market 2015-2019" report to their offering. ... ) has announced the addition of ...
(Date:11/2/2015)... Calif. , Nov. 2, 2015  SRI International ... million to provide preclinical development services to the National ... contract, SRI will provide scientific expertise, modern testing and ... variety of preclinical pharmacology and toxicology studies to evaluate ... --> The PREVENT Cancer Drug Development Program ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... 2015 Daon, a global leader in mobile ... a new version of its IdentityX Platform , ... America have already installed IdentityX v4.0 and ... FIDO UAF certified server component as an ... FIDO features. These customers include some of the largest ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... , November 25, 2015 ... Report is a professional and in-depth study on ...      (Logo: ) , ... the industry including definitions, classifications, applications and industry ... for the international markets including development trends, competitive ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 Halozyme Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... in New York on Wednesday, December 2 ... Torley , president and CEO, will provide a corporate overview. ... York at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT . ... relations, will provide a corporate overview. --> th ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... -- Clintrax Global, Inc., a worldwide provider of clinical research services headquartered ... the company has set a new quarterly earnings record in Q3 ... posted for Q3 of 2014 to Q3 of 2015.   ... , with the establishment of an Asia-Pacific ... United Kingdom and Mexico , with ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 2015 --> ... released by Transparency Market Research, the global non-invasive prenatal ... of 17.5% during the period between 2014 and 2022. ... Industry Analysis, Size, Volume, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast ... market to reach a valuation of US$2.38 bn by ...
Breaking Biology Technology: