Vortices in the flow act as incubators for plankton blooms

Vortices in the flow act as incubators for plankton blooms

We have studied the interplay of hydrodynamic mesoscale structures and the growth of plankton in the wake of an island, and its interaction with a coastal upwelling, i.e. a vertical flow transporting nutrients from deeper ocean layers to the top layer, where plankton resides. Using a coupled system of a kinematic flow mimicking the mesoscale structures behind the island and a simple three component model for the marine ecosystem, consisting of nutrients, phytoplankton and zooplankton, we have shown that the long residence times of nutrients and plankton in the vicinity of the island and the confinement of plankton within vortices are key factors for the appearance of localized plankton blooms. In fact, vortices can act as incubators for plankton blooms. This mechanism can explain the manifold localized plankton blooms observed in satellite pictures.

(Changed: 2021-10-05)