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Open AccessArticle

Variations in Remotely-Sensed Phytoplankton Size Structure of a Cyclonic Eddy in the Southwest Indian Ocean

1
Oceans & Coasts Research, Department of Environmental Affairs, Private Bag X4390, Cape Town 8000, South Africa
2
Marine Research Institute & Department of Oceanography, University of Cape Town, Private Bag X3, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa
3
Bayworld Centre for Research & Education, 5 Riesling Road, Constantia, Cape Town 7806, South Africa
4
Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML), Prospect Place, The Hoe, Plymouth PL1 3DH, UK
5
National Centre for Earth Observation, PML, Prospect Place, The Hoe, Plymouth PL1 3DH, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(7), 1143; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10071143
Received: 1 May 2018 / Revised: 1 June 2018 / Accepted: 2 June 2018 / Published: 19 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Ocean Colour)
Phytoplankton size classes were derived from weekly-averaged MODIS Aqua chlorophyll a data over the southwest Indian Ocean in order to assess changes in surface phytoplankton community structure within a cyclonic eddy as it propagated across the Mozambique Basin in 2013. Satellite altimetry was used to identify and track the southwesterly movement of the eddy from its origin off Madagascar in mid-June until mid-October, when it eventually merged with the Agulhas Current along the east coast of South Africa. Nano- and picophytoplankton comprised most of the community in the early phase of the eddy development in June, but nanophytoplankton then dominated in austral winter (July and August). Microphytoplankton was entrained into the eddy by horizontal advection from the southern Madagascar shelf, increasing the proportion of microphytoplankton to 23% when the chlorophyll a levels reached a peak of 0.36 mg·m−3 in the third week of July. Chlorophyll a levels declined to <0.2 mg·m−3 in austral spring (September and October) as the eddy propagated further to the southwest. Picophytoplankton dominated the community during the spring period, accounting for >50% of the population. As far as is known, this is the first study to investigate temporal changes in chlorophyll a and community structure in a cyclonic eddy propagating across an ocean basin in the southwest Indian Ocean. View Full-Text
Keywords: ocean colour; phytoplankton size structure; cyclonic eddy; Southwest Indian Ocean ocean colour; phytoplankton size structure; cyclonic eddy; Southwest Indian Ocean
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Lamont, T.; Barlow, R.G.; Brewin, R.J.W. Variations in Remotely-Sensed Phytoplankton Size Structure of a Cyclonic Eddy in the Southwest Indian Ocean. Remote Sens. 2018, 10, 1143.

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