Contrasting phytoplankton community structure and associated light absorption characteristics of the western Bay of Bengal
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Absorption spectra, particulate pigments, and hydrochemical constituents were measured in the western Bay of Bengal (BoB) during July-August 2010 when influence of river discharge is at peak. Chromophoric dissolved organic matter (CDOM) absorption coefficient (a<sub>CDOM</sub>(440)) displayed a significant inverse linear relationship with salinity in the surface waters implying conservative mixing of marine and terrestrial end members. The northern part of the study area is influenced by discharge from the river Ganga and a dominant terrestrial CDOM signal is seen. The southern part receives discharge from peninsular rivers with corresponding signals of higher CDOM than the linear model would indicate and higher UV-specific absorption coefficient (SUVA) indicating more aged and humified DOM. Lower contribution of CDOM to total non-water absorption and higher phytoplankton biomass (chlorophyll a absorption coefficient, a<sub>ph</sub>(440)) but lower chlorophyll a specific phytoplankton absorption coefficient (a<sub>ph</sub>*<sup></sup>(440)) characterize the northern part, compared to the southern part. Chlorophyll b had a distinct linear relationship with chlorophyll a in the latter. The size index (SI) indicated dominance of microphytoplankton in the northern and nano and picophytoplankton in the southern parts. Chlorophyll a is significantly related to a<sub>ph</sub>*<sup></sup>(440) by an inverse power model in the northern part but by an inverse linear model in the southern part. Our study suggests that knowledge of the phytoplankton community structure is essential to improve chlorophyll a algorithm in the coastal Bay of Bengal.
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