Navigation Links
Ocean stirring and plankton patchiness
Date:6/21/2010

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
r.howlett@noc.soton.ac.uk
44-080-598-490
National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (UK)
Source:Eurekalert  

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:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Ocean stirring and plankton patchiness
(Date:12/12/2016)... , Dec. 12, 2016  Researchers at ... possibilities for graphene by combining the material with ... highly sensitive pressure detector able to sense pulse, ... a small spider.  The research ... can be read here:  http://science.sciencemag.org/content/354/6317/1257 ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... ALAMEDA, Calif. , Dec. 8, 2016  Singulex, ... Single Molecule Counting technology, entered into a license and ... in serving science. The agreement provides Singulex access to ... Europe is used to diagnose ... the United States to aid in assessing ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... , December 7, 2016 BioCatch , the ... of its patent portfolio, which grew to over 40 granted and pending ... , , ... filed patent entitled " System, Device, and Method Estimating Force ... enables device makers to forego costly hardware components needed to estimate the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/19/2017)... 2017  ArmaGen, Inc., today announced that it ... chief executive officer, as well as a member ... ArmaGen more than 17 years of executive management ... biotherapeutics and pharmaceuticals. "Mathias is ... and skillset necessary to lead ArmaGen to its ...
(Date:1/19/2017)... Staten Island, NY (PRWEB) , ... January 19, 2017 , ... ... expand at an exponential rate. The tremendous growth is accounted to two main ... to the table and the expanding network of vendors supplying FireflySci products all around ...
(Date:1/19/2017)... , Jan. 18, 2017 Acupath Laboratories, Inc., ... the formation of an Executive Committee that will guide ... John Cucci , a 15-year veteran ... Director of Business Development to Chief Sales Officer ... Cucci served in senior sales leadership roles at several ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... 2017   Boston Biomedical , an industry leader ... cancer stemness pathways, will feature data from two clinical ... 2017 ASCO Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium, held from January 19-21, ... Napabucasin is an orally-administered investigational agent designed to ... Cancer stem cells (CSCs) possess the property of stemness ...
Breaking Biology Technology: