Plankton thrive in the wake of chaos

2019-03-07 01:08:14

THE human cost of hurricanes such as Floyd, which lashed the east coast of the US last week, may be huge, but algae flourish in their wake. Marilyn Fogel of the Carnegie Institution of Washington and her colleagues found that the photosynthetic activity of phytoplankton off the coast of North Carolina increased fivefold in the four days after Hurricane Gordon in 1994. As the researchers report in the latest issue of Limnology and Oceanography (vol 44, p 1359), the activity was triggered by nutrients from sediments and deeper waters stirred up by the storm. “The influence of the hurricane on mixing reached as deep as 150 metres,” says Russell Cuhel of the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee,