Biological control of surface temperature in the Arabian Sea

Sathyendranath, Shubha ; Gouveia, Albert D. ; Shetye, Satish R. ; Ravindran, P. ; Platt, Trevor (1991) Biological control of surface temperature in the Arabian Sea Nature, 349 . pp. 54-56. ISSN 0028-0836

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By far the dominant variable parameter controlling the absorption cross-section for short-wavelength solar radiation incident on the ocean surface is the concentration of photosynthetic pigment contained in phytoplankton cells. The abundance of phytoplankton depends on the intensity of incident radiation and on the supply of essential nutrients (nitrogen in particular). A higher abundance increases absorption of radiation and thus enhances the rate of heating at the ocean surface. In the Arabian Sea, the southwest monsoon promotes seasonal upwelling of deep water, which supplies nutrients to the surface layer and leads to a marked increase in phytoplankton growth. Using remotely sensed data on ocean colour, we show here that the resulting distribution of phytoplankton exerts a controlling influence on the seasonal evolution of sea surface temperature. This results in a corresponding modification of ocean-atmosphere heat exchange on regional and seasonal scales. Thus we show that this biological mechanism may provide an important regulating influence on ocean-atmosphere interactions.

Item Type:Article
Source:Copyright of this article belongs to Nature Publishing Group.
ID Code:54072
Deposited On:11 Aug 2011 12:02
Last Modified:11 Aug 2011 12:02

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