Rainfall-enhanced blooming in typhoon wakes

Y. C. Lin, L. Y. Oey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations

Abstract

Strong phytoplankton blooming in tropical-cyclone (TC) wakes over the oligotrophic oceans potentially contributes to long-term changes in global biogeochemical cycles. Yet blooming has traditionally been discussed using anecdotal events and its biophysical mechanics remain poorly understood. Here we identify dominant blooming patterns using 16 years of ocean-color data in the wakes of 141 typhoons in western North Pacific. We observe right-side asymmetric blooming shortly after the storms, attributed previously to sub-mesoscale re-stratification, but thereafter a left-side asymmetry which coincides with the left-side preference in rainfall due to the large-scale wind shear. Biophysical model experiments and observations demonstrate that heavier rainfall freshens the near-surface water, leading to stronger stratification, decreased turbulence and enhanced blooming. Our results suggest that rainfall plays a previously unrecognized, critical role in TC-induced blooming, with potentially important implications for global biogeochemical cycles especially in view of the recent and projected increases in TC-intensity that harbingers stronger mixing and heavier rain under the storm.

Original languageEnglish
Article number31310
JournalScientific Reports
Volume6
DOIs
StatePublished - 22 Aug 2016

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