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World - Massive plankton blooms with very different ecosystem impacts

"The big mystery about plankton is what controls its distribution and abundance, and what conditions lead to big plankton blooms," according to the author of a new study. Researchers explore this question and provide examples of conditions that lead to massive plankton blooms with vastly different potential impacts on the ecosystem.

"The big mystery about plankton is what controls its distribution and abundance, and what conditions lead to big plankton blooms," according to the author of a new study. Researchers explore this question and provide examples of conditions that lead to massive plankton blooms with vastly different potential impacts on the ecosystem.

"The big mystery about plankton is what controls its distribution and abundance, and what conditions lead to big plankton blooms," said Dennis McGillicuddy, Senior Scientist and Department Chair in Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).

Two new papers explore this question and provide examples of conditions that lead to massive plankton blooms with vastly different potential impacts on the ecosystem, according to McGillicuddy, co-author of both papers. Both papers also point to the importance of using advanced technology -- including Video Plankton Recorders, autonomous underwater vehicles, and the Ocean Observatories Initiative's Coastal Pioneer Array -- to find and monitor these blooms.

In one paper, Diatom Hotspots Driven by Western Boundary Current Instability, published in Geophysical Research Letters (GRL), scientists found unexpectedly productive subsurface hotspot blooms of diatom phytoplankton.

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