Study on the impact of hurricane on phytoplankton community

Dr. Annette Samuelsen participated in a model study on the impact of a hurricane on the phytoplankton community, recently published in Geophysical Research Letter.

This was the first study to analyze phytoplankton and zooplankton community size structure during hurricane passage. A three‐dimensional biophysical model was used to assess ecosystem dynamics, plankton biomass, and plankton distribution in the Gulf of Mexico during Hurricane Katrina (2005). Model simulations revealed that large phytoplankton were most responsive to hurricane‐induced turbulent mixing and nutrient injection, with increases in biomass along the hurricane track. Small phytoplankton, microzooplankton, and mesozooplankton biomass primarily shifted in location and increased in spatial extent as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane passage disrupted the distribution of plankton biomass associated with mesoscale eddies. Biomass minimums and maximums that resided in the center of warm‐ and cold‐core eddies and along eddy peripheries prior to hurricane passage were displaced during Hurricane Katrina.

Figure: Time-averaged (30 – 31 August) comparison of (a) SeaWiFS and (b) model depth-integrated chl-a concentrations. The red line represents Hurricane Katrina’s track. White pixels in Figure 2a are due to clouds.

Citation: Gierach, M. M., B. Subrahmanyam, A. Samuelsen, and K. Ueyoshi (2009), Hurricane‐driven alteration in plankton community size structure in the Gulf of Mexico: A modeling study, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L07604, doi:10.1029/2009GL037414. and is available at:

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