Are eddies nature’s trigger to enhance biological productivity in the Bay of Bengal?
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The Bay of Bengal is traditionally considered to be a less productive basin compared to the Arabian Sea. Despite the contrasting chlorophyll and primary productivity pattern, sediment trap data shows that annual fluxes of organic carbon reach comparable rates in both the basins. The traditional mechanisms of nutrient supply to the upper ocean waters cannot account for this. We propose eddy pumping as a possible mechanism of vertical transfer of nutrients across the halocline to the oligotrophic euphotic zone during summer monsoon when upper ocean is highly stratified. This would induce rapid biological uptake and in turn significantly increase biological production. In the northern Bay, riverine input acts as an additional source of nutrients and augments the subsurface nutrient injection to the euphotic zone by eddy pumping. Notwithstanding this, the lower than expected primary production in the north suggests the possible role of riverine sediment in limiting the sunlight for photosynthesis.
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