Scheme: Newton International Fellowships
Organisation: University of Cambridge
Dates: Mar 2013-Mar 2015
Summary: Every spring, freely drifting microscopic algae, called phytoplankton, bloom in the subpolar North Atlantic. Photosynthetic proliferation during the bloom and the subsequent settlement of organic material significantly contribute to the movement of carbon from the atmosphere to the deep ocean. Although the concept of a bloom is at least qualitatively agreed upon as a condition of high phytoplankton biomass, what causes a bloom to begin is still unclear.
The aim of this study is to understand the role of turbulence on the initiation of phytoplankton blooms in the upper open ocean. In particular, we are interested in understanding the effects of physical controls, such as sunlight and wind speed, on this seasonal peak. A suite of computer simulations should provide a picture of how the effects of the turbulent transport of phytoplankton and its grazer, zooplankton can affect the annual phytoplankton cycle.