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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  27 Aug 2020

27 Aug 2020

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A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

A Limited Effect of Sub-Tropical Typhoons on Phytoplankton Dynamics

Fei Chai1,2, Yuntao Wang1, Xiaogang Xing1, Yunwei Yan1, Huijie Xue2,3, Mark Wells2, and Emmanuel Boss2 Fei Chai et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Satellite Ocean Environment Dynamics, Second Institute of Oceanography, Ministry of Natural Resources, Hangzhou, 310012, China
  • 2School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, ME, 04469, USA
  • 3State Key Laboratory of Tropical Oceanography, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou, 510301, China

Abstract. Typhoons are assumed to stimulate ocean primary production through the upward mixing of nutrients into the surface ocean, based largely on observations of increased surface chlorophyll concentrations following the passage of typhoons. This surface chlorophyll enhancement, seen on occasion by satellites, more often is undetected due to intense cloud coverage. Daily data from a BGC-Argo profiling float revealed the upper-ocean response to Typhoon Trami in the Northwest Pacific Ocean. Temperature and chlorophyll changed rapidly, with a significant drop in sea surface temperature and surge in surface chlorophyll associated with strong vertical mixing, which was only partially captured by satellite observations. However, no net increase in vertically integrated chlorophyll was observed during Typhoon Trami or in its wake. Contrary to the prevailing dogma, the results show that typhoons likely have limited effect on net ocean primary production. Observed surface chlorophyll enhancements during and immediately following typhoons in tropical and subtropical waters are more likely associated with surface entrainment of deep chlorophyll maxima. Moreover, the findings demonstrate that remote sensing data alone can overestimate the impact of storms on primary production in all oceans. Full understanding of the impact of storms on upper ocean productivity can only be achieved with ocean observing robots dedicated to high-resolution temporal sampling in the path of storms.

Fei Chai et al.

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Fei Chai et al.

Fei Chai et al.


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Latest update: 23 Nov 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
The unique observations by a biogeochemical-Argo float in Northwest Pacific Ocean captured the impact of a super typhoon on upper ocean physical and biological processes. Our result reveals typhoon can increase the surface chlorophyll through strong vertical mixing without bringing nutrients upward from the depth. The vertical re-distribution of chlorophyll contributes little to enhance the primary production which is contradictory to many of former satellite-based studies related to this topic.
The unique observations by a biogeochemical-Argo float in Northwest Pacific Ocean captured the...