As we have pointed out, it is currently impossible to predict exactly when and where a phytoplankton bloom will occur in the ocean – one of the reasons we are developing ATOEM to detect the earliest signs of bloom formation. A paper published last July in Science by physical oceanographer Amala Mahadevan at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and colleagues is now profiled in WHOI’s in-house magazine, Oceanus, and reveals a new “trigger” for North Atlantic blooms – the giant eddies that form and trap plankton near the surface. Understanding the full life history of blooms will be a critical first step in our efforts to further enhance their ability to seaquester carbon.
“Springtime phytoplankton blooms in high and mid-latitude oceans contribute substantially to global photosynthetic fixation and export of carbon from the surface ocean, with the North Atlantic alone accounting for 20% of net global CO2 uptake.”
Mahadevan et al. (2013)