Phytoplankton size structure in the southern Bay of Bengal modified by the Summer Monsoon Current and associated eddies: Implications on the vertical biogenic flux..
Vinayachandran, P. N.
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The present study combines field and satellite observations to investigate how hydrographical transformations influence phytoplankton size structure in the southern Bay of Bengal during the peak Southwest Monsoon/Summer Monsoon (July–August). The intrusion of the Summer Monsoon Current (SMC) into the Bay of Bengal and associated changes in sea surface chemistry, traceable eastward up to 90°E along 8°N, seems to influence biology of the region significantly. Both insitu and satellite (MODIS) data revealed low surface chlorophyll except in the area influenced by the SMC. During the study period, two well-developed cyclonic eddies (north) and an anti-cyclonic eddy (south), closely linked to the main eastward flow of the SMC, were sampled. Considering the capping effect of the low-saline surface water that is characteristic of the Bay of Bengal, the impact of the cyclonic eddy, estimated in terms of enhanced nutrients and chlorophyll, was mostly restricted to the subsurface waters (below 20 m depth). Conversely, the anti-cyclonic eddy aided by the SMC was characterized by considerably higher nutrient concentration and chlorophyll in the upper water column (upper 60 m), which was contrary to the general characteristic of such eddies. Albeit smaller phytoplankton predominated the southern Bay of Bengal (60–95% of the total chlorophyll), the contribution of large phytoplankton was double in the regions influenced by the SMC and associated eddies. Multivariate analysis revealed the extent to which SMC-associated eddies spatially influence phytoplankton community structure. The study presents the first direct quantification of the size structure of phytoplankton from the southern Bay of Bengal and demonstrates that the SMC-associated hydrographical ramifications significantly increase the phytoplankton biomass contributed by larger phytoplankton and thereby influence the vertical opal and organic carbon flux in the region
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