Phytoplankton reaction to an intense storm in the north-western Mediterranean Sea - ARTICLE À COMITÉ DE LECTURE EN CYTOMÉTRIE EN FLUX APPLIQUÉE À L'OCÉANOGRAPHIE ET LA MICROBIOLOGIE Access content directly
Journal Articles Biogeosciences Year : 2023

Phytoplankton reaction to an intense storm in the north-western Mediterranean Sea

Caroline Comby
Anthony Bosse
Jean-Luc Fuda
Nagib Bhairy
Gérald Grégori


The study of extreme weather events and their impact on ocean physics and biogeochemistry is challenging due to the difficulty involved with collecting in situ data. However, recent research has pointed out the major influence of such physical forcing events on microbiological organisms. Moreover, the occurrence of such intense events may increase in the future in the context of global change. In May 2019, an intense storm occurred in the Ligurian Sea (north-western Mediterranean Sea) and was captured during the FUMSECK (Facilities for Updating the Mediterranean Submesoscale - Ecosystem Coupling Knowledge) cruise. In situ multi-platform (vessel-mounted acoustic Doppler current profiler, thermosalinometer, fluorometer, flow cytometer, a moving vessel profiler equipped with a multi-sensor towed vehicle, and a glider) measurements along with satellite data and a 3D atmospheric model were used to characterise the fine-scale dynamics occurring in the impacted oceanic zone. The most affected area was marked by a lower water temperature (1 °C colder), a factor of 2 increase in surface chlorophyll a, and a factor of 7 increase in the nitrate concentration, exhibiting strong gradients with respect to the surrounding waters. Our results show that this storm led to a deepening of the mixed-layer depth from 15 to 50 m and a dilution of the deep chlorophyll maximum. As a result, the surface biomass of most phytoplankton groups identified by automated flow cytometry increased by up to a factor of 2. Conversely, the carbon / chlorophyll ratio of most phytoplankton groups decreased by a factor of 2, evidencing significant changes in the phytoplankton cell composition. These results suggest that the role of storms on the biogeochemistry and ecology of the Mediterranean Sea may be underestimated and highlight the need for high-resolution measurements during these events coupling physics and biology.
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insu-03948246 , version 1 (20-01-2023)




S. Barrillon, Robin Fuchs, Anne A. Petrenko, Caroline Comby, Anthony Bosse, et al.. Phytoplankton reaction to an intense storm in the north-western Mediterranean Sea. Biogeosciences, 2023, 20, pp.141-161. ⟨10.5194/bg-20-141-2023⟩. ⟨insu-03948246⟩
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